What is it? What makes it so destructive? How do you stop it?
In this context, GOSSIP is defined as when two (or more) people talk about a third person…in a manner that leaves the third person diminished in his or her eyes with no one doing the talking committed to helping the third person directly.
GOSSIP is pure, negative energy that destroys possibility and is the most harmful behavior any group can choose to tolerate.
However, GOSSIP is tolerated in most organizations. Attempts to eliminate it often prove ineffective because the efforts are focused on eliminating the “saying” of GOSSIP. The problem with this approach is that many people fail in the moment to recognize that they are spreading GOSSIP.
If you want to build a GOSSIP-free culture, you must instead focus on eliminating the “listening” to GOSSIP—because GOSSIP stops when no one listens. It's as simple as this: When anyone begins to complain or talk badly about another person, no matter the reason, ask, “Before you go on, will either of us approach him directly about this?” If the answer is “no,” stop listening. Elimination of GOSSIP creates the possibility of sustaining a CULTURE in which group members actively invest in the development of all other members.
When you're up to something big, a CULTURE of zero-tolerance for GOSSIP is critical.