Psst! Gossip hurtful to individuals, team

  • Published
  • By Wanda Heath
  • Directorate of Personnel Program Management
Who doesn't like a good gossip story? It's big business these days with television shows and tabloids dedicated to keeping us well informed of the everyday comings and goings of the rich and famous. 

Gossip normally is just idle chatter between people; it generally lacks much thought and fills a void in the day. Most of us have even engaged in it at one time or another. 

It's very easy to get drawn into gossip and often times difficult to resist that juicy tidbit. Many people just see it as the passing along of information. 

However, workplace gossip can also be destructive and hurtful not only to the individuals involved, but to the organization as a whole. It decreases productivity by distracting people from their work, it builds silent walls between those who work together, and it compromises customer service, not to mention the pain and resentment of those who become the targets. 

It is only natural for the people who are the subject of the gossip to be reluctant to work with people they believe betrayed their trust. Gossip whether fiction or nonfiction has no place in the work environment; it can result in the breakdown of the trust among employees, and the demise of teamwork. 

Teams are built on mutual honesty, trust and respect, and when gossip enters the premises, these values are destroyed. It becomes a cancer eating away at the very core of the individual and team. 

You can compare gossip to the childhood game of "telephone", where one person will whisper the information to another and that person whispers it to someone else, and so on. By the time the information reaches the last person, it has changed entirely into a different story. 

Employees at the Air Reserve Personnel Center are a family of sorts -- a team. When gossip exists, there can be no "team" only a "group" at best.