What comes out of your mouth reveals much about your character.
Think about the people you know and what comes from their mouths. Through their mouths, people project wisdom, humor, profanity, pain, concern, and truth, just to mention a few personal idioms.
It is through these words where people display what is on their minds and hearts, all of which reflect their character.
Take gossip for example. A person who regularly tells stories about other people will never be trusted with delicate or personal information.
Conversely, someone who is known to keep confidences will easily gain the trust of other people.
Just by hearing what comes from a person’s mouth, people easily and quickly make snap judgments about a person’s character, whether that judgment is ultimately warranted or not.
So, knowing how easy it is for others to make quick opinions about people, why do people still think it is acceptable to gossip.
Gossip at Work
Gossip is extraordinarily damaging.
It damages the person who is being talked about, and it damages the person doing the gossiping. And the damage from both can take years to overcome.
I’m not going to attempt to define gossip. Definitions vary from talking behind someone back to workplace violence. And it also includes freedom of speech issues and National Labor Relations Act judgments.
Gossip simply boils down to talking about someone else, regardless of malicious or truth.
Anytime someone at work engages in gossip it:
- Erodes the trust among employees.
- Wastes time and reduces productivity.
- Causes anxiety among employees.
- Is divisive causing employees to take sides.
- Hurts feelings and reputations.
- Results in attrition.
What is fascinating about gossip is how some things have not changed. God knew His people and knew the evils of gossip long before we were aware of its damages.
Proverbs 26:22 says.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Isn’t that a perfect description of gossip? The cheap thrill of learning a secret about someone else and the need to learn more.
Romans 1:29-31 says.
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. . ..
This list of personal traits written by the Apostle Paul is not a list of positive attributes. It is a list of behaviors that we would not like on our personal resumes. And being a gossip is held in company with the likes of murders, the heartless and inventors of evil.
1 Timothy 5:13 says.
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.
These descriptions were true two thousand years ago, and they are true today. Gossip was a vile practice then, and it is a vile practice now.
Although gossip will not go away, we must address it in workplaces.
Written policies are not effective in curbing workplace gossip because there is no single definition or litmus test to determine what constitutes “gossip.”
The solution to curbing workplace gossip is all about your leadership and leading by example. If you want to curb gossip at work, you have got to address it at every opportunity.
Here are four suggested steps to take.
- Every encounter you hear gossip, take the time to politely suggest that you are not interested and that information about other people should best come from them. Make it known that you are not interested in second-hand information.
- When you need to hear about a specific circumstance, make it known you want only the facts.
- If someone shares a story that you find compelling or motivational, make sure you ask permission to use it. This courteous action will gain you the reputation of sharing only approved information.
- If you are the recipient of gossip that is particularly hurtful and troubling, pray for wisdom to address the situation and how you can be helpful to someone in their time of trouble.
God forbids gossip. Proverbs 17:4-5 says.
An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
We are doing the work of the Lord by stifling the practice of gossip wherever we can. Our workplace is a great place to start.