Commentary

March 1, 2013

Workplace gossip can be harmful to individual, organization

Part 1 of 3

As the Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Program at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, I have witnessed a growing concern in the effects of gossiping. As the EEO Director, I see too much of this, much too often. Repeatedly, I have had the duty of explaining the avenue of redress to an individual that was the brunt of office gossip. One of the things I have been asked many times is how to combat this destructive behavior. This series will address the concerns of senior management, DA civilians, family members, and contractors. I will also offer some solutions to this problem. At the end of this series I hope that we as a family at the NTC can learn that when we injure one another with harmful gossiping, it damages all of us.

It seems so harmless. The little chitchat at the water cooler or in the gazebo or at the bus stop about so-and-so, about someone’s relationship with someone else, the speculation about so-and-so – this is gossiping! Now, you may say, “I was just making idle conversation. I wasn’t trying to hurt feelings or damage reputations.” So, how can you tell the difference between harmless conversation and very harmful gossip? There is a huge difference, and it is important, because gossip that runs amok can be dangerous and destructive in a workplace. First, while light conversation can be value neutral, gossip is often negative, inflammatory and embarrassing to the targeted person. Here is a test: Consider the impact of what is being said. Does it cast negative slanderous remarks? Does it create rifts? Does it wallow in the misfortune of others? Does it have a negative emotional charge? Does it serve to perpetuate conflict or negativity? Is it hurtful or damaging? Is it something you would say in front of that person?

Technically, any sharing of trivial or unsubstantiated information can be considered gossip. But you have to consider the sentiment. For example, if it were rumored that a co-worker is being promoted, and you discuss it with a co-worker, is that gossip? If the discussion is hurtful or damaging or negative, then yes, it is gossip. But if it’s value neutral, then it’s not. If the story is told with negativity and without good will, then it is gossip.

Gossip hurts: Gossip has many adverse side effects on an organization. It can increase conflict and decrease morale. It results in strained relationships. Gossip breaks down the trust level within the group, which results in employees second-guessing each other and ultimately running to the supervisor to clarify the directions or instructions, or to settle the differences that will arise. Gossip is the death of teamwork as the group breaks up into cliques and employees start refusing to work with others. Rampant negative gossip also results in the supervisor spending an enormous amount of time trying to figure out who said what to whom. Productivity is lost, as are good employees who do not want to work in such a toxic environment.

(Editor’s note: This is part one of three on the topic of gossip in the workplace.)




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
front_page

Fort Irwin Soldiers honored at Armed Forces Day event

Children surround Spc. Matthew Bragg – of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment – for a photo opportunity at the 2015 Torrance Armed Forces Day Parade, May 16.   Leadership, Soldiers and civilian employe...
 
 

News Briefs June 2015

Now through Aug. 5 SAC Summer Camp. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday. 1322 Pork Chop Hill. The Fort Irwin School Age Center Summer Camp Program accommodates children from kindergarten to fifth grade. SAC encourages physical, emotional, and social development through the following service areas: sports, fitness, and health options; life skills, citizenship...
 
 
Sgt. Erik Thurman

Memorial Day ceremonies supported by 11th ACR

Sgt. Erik Thurman Major Bradley Lang addresses an audience during a Memorial Day ceremony at Desert View Memorial Park in Victorville, Calif., May 25. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment had the honor of participating in three Me...
 

 

Garrison command team will miss installation, great people

For the command team of Col. Jon Braga and Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Esmurria, leaving Fort Irwin in July will be a bittersweet moment. The two have been at the helm of Fort Irwin United States Army Garrison, the organization that manages the cantonment area of this military installation, since mid-2013. It will be 24...
 
 
Leslie Ozawa

NTC bids farewell to post CSM, hails interim

Leslie Ozawa National Training Center and Fort Irwin Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Martin congratulates Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Travers. Travers received a Legion of Merit award for his service to the NTC as post command sergea...
 
 
IMG_5348

11th ACR Horse Detachment demonstrates tradition

Sgt. 1st Class Roman Hacker leads fellow Horse Handlers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Horse Detachment on a beach ride at Salinas River State Beach in Marina, Calif., May 8.   Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse welcom...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>