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Workplace Q & A
Backbiting in the Workplace
Constant Backbiting and Gossip in the Workplace
I work in an outpatient healthcare facility where there is constant backbiting and gossip going on with the staff and the patients. Some days I hate to go to work, although I like my job pretty well. Why do people insist on gossiping and spreading things that they know aren't true?

     Signed "Fed Up with the Backbiting"
Dear Fed Up with the Backbiting,
Why do people gossip? It is probably the major form of communication in any business, church, social or family setting. Gossip can be pretty destructive and counterproductive especially when it is about you. For the person who is carrying the information, he or she may feel as though it is a civic duty to share their knowledge with anyone who will listen. It also seems to be necessary to embellish it a little, in the event that the topic of gossip isn't juicy enough. You probably heard about the office gossip who said "…that is all that I can tell you…. I have already told you more than I heard myself."
We have been told that knowledge is power. So, the person who seems to have a lot of knowledge may be perceived, or perceive him or herself as "in the know" and therefore powerful. In fact, often that is not the case.
Now what to do about the office gossip. Gossip requires a talker and a listener. If no one listens then he or she can't gossip. It's up to each individual to make the choice to participate, or not, in this past time. In breaking free of the practice of gossiping, we could apply the Rotary Club's four-way test regarding the information received and passed on to others.
  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, don't participate!
Best wishes, Mary Rau-Foster

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