Even though it seems people like to vent—especially at someone else’s expense—they usually don’t. The act of gossiping leaves us feeling guilty about saying too much about the wrong thing and rightfully concerned that what we said will come back to haunt us.
Besides, engaging in gossip breeds more gossip, which can easily end up putting your reputation at risk. And if it goes viral on social-media platforms, it can do serious damage to your company’s brand.
To help you avoid the pitfalls of gossip, here are some scenario-specific phrases that can shut the vicious cycle of negativity down:
Gossip about a project:
- In fairness to the project lead, I’d like to reserve my comments until I’ve reviewed the facts.
- If that turns out to be the case, then we will take action.
Gossip about a person:
- My preference is to share my opinions about Melissa when she’s present.
- I can’t speak for Chris, but, based on the information I have, here’s what I can tell you . . .
Gossip about anything else:
- Thanks for sharing your insights with me. It’s been my experience that . . .
For maximum effect, follow these phrases by saying something forward-thinking that gets the conversation back on a positive track. You can always start by refocusing the conversation around business strategy.
Given the inherent shortcomings of human nature, gossip is hard to avoid. So, when all else fails, walk away. Respect yourself—and others will respect you for it.
Before you act . . .
Hold yourself to a higher standard. Be honor-bound in your personal dealings and you’ll make the right choices.