What do kids on the playground, teenagers in the locker room, and adults in the office have in common? They like to gossip.
The word tends to have negative connotations, calling to mind judgmental busybodies with too much time on their hands, but new research indicates that gossip actually seems to serve a purpose.
Published online in Science, the study found that people pay more attention to the faces of those about whom they’ve heard negative things. The researchers believe the effects of gossip can help people distinguish friends from enemies, a mechanism that may have developed in order to protect us from being hurt by dishonest people.
While gossip may have its place in society, it can be a tricky thing to manage in the workplace.
Not only does office gossip breed division, exclusion, and negativity, it can spoil your efforts to create a solid, efficient, and well-functioning team.
Fostering a sense of peace and a cooperative vibe in the office often involves encouraging friendship among your employees. At the very least, you want your workers to be respectful of one another and capable of operating well with any one of their colleagues.
Keep your eyes (and your ears) open for gossip on staff, and when appropriate, intercede. You can’t force them to like one another, but you might be able to prevent harmful gossip from spreading too far.
At the same time, try to head off any potential interpersonal conflicts by facilitating bonds among staff members.
A few ideas:
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