When someone gossips (video transcript)
One of the worst ways people undermine teams is by gossiping. But many of us don’t know what to do when someone comes to us to gossip. It’s uncomfortable, but we don’t know what to say to shut it off.
Here are the right words to say when someone gossips.
If the gossip is about something you don’t think is legitimate, try something like this: “Mary, I understand that’s how you felt about Frank’s comment, I see where you’re coming from, but I heard it a little differently.” Or “What do you think Luke was trying to get across when he said that, even if it didn’t come across how he might have wanted?” Or “Mary, this is clearly something you feel really strongly about, I think it’s best you tell Luke how his comments are affecting you.”
The idea is to get Mary to see things a little more objectively. Now, if you believe that Mary has a legitimate concern, try something different.
“Mary, I share your concern about Frank’s behavior in the meeting, I think you need to talk with Frank about that. Can I help you prepare for your conversation with him?” Or, “Mary, I’m also worried about the direction we took on that project, I think we need to discuss our decision at the meeting on Monday. Would you like me to contact John to get it on the agenda?”
The object here is to get the issue out in the open. Gossip kills teamwork, and it creates dysfunctional organizations. Those are the right words to say when someone gossips.