If you’re going to live out your purpose and change the world, you have to stop gossip. Gossip can derail a mission, cripple an organization, and destroy lives faster than almost anything else can. It’s poison…and it must be stopped.

How to stop office gossip
If you really want to stop gossip, you’ll get mean about it. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

But how? If you are overwhelmed at the prospect of stopping gossip, this post is for you. It’s easier than you think, if you use the four methods I suggest below.

First, don’t be a thief yourself.

If you listen to gossip, you are an accomplice to robbery.
Rick Warren says in The Purpose Driven Life that:

Listening to gossip is like accepting stolen property, and it makes you just as guilty of the crime.

If you think that gossip ends when you hear it, even if you don’t spread it, you are sadly mistaken. Simply listening to a gossip is an act of approval.
If you are spreading gossip yourself, I can’t help you there other than to say “grow up and shut up, you big baby!” The first step to stopping gossip from penetrating into your life or taking over your organization’s culture is to stop spreading it yourself.

Get mean about gossip

It’s time to be a hardcore, militant gossip-stopper. It’s time to hate gossip like an Auburn fan hates Alabama. It’s time to shed your “Mr. Nice Guy” cloak and put on a “Gossip Stops Here” super hero cape.
Here are four ways to put gossip in its rightful place: in the dirt, stomped on, twisted into the ground.

  1. Get ready to rumble. This is no time to be nice. Politeness should not even be a consideration here. Don’t be gentle or let them down easy. Are you gentle and easy with a thief? These people possess stolen property. They are invading your otherwise pure personal space and filling it with garbage. Don’t be soft. It’s time to put your foot down. Hard!
  2. Call them out. Firmly tell them that what they are doing is wrong and you are absolutely not going to listen to it. They’re poisoning your mind and just as you have a right to fight back when someone is bullying you, you have a right to shut a gossip up. It might sound like this: “Joe, before you go any further, I hate gossip. It tears down team unity and really ticks me off. I’m done listening and I hope you’re done talking.” That was the nice version by the way.
  3. Walk away. Maybe #2 sounds too hard for you. Maybe you’re the passive aggressive type and are working up the courage to take a stand. One day you will get there, but for now, just walk away. Literally the moment you hear, “Did you hear what Jim said about Kate?” start walking. This is also a great way to supplement #2. Like Eminem in the movie 8 Mile…call them out, drop the mic and walk away.
  4. If you are in a position to do so, institute a no-gossip policy. This is a pillar of Entreleadership. I love Dave Ramsey’s approach to this, and if you can, I highly encourage you to put a no-gossip policy in place.

Here is the no-gossip policy: No gossiping.
You get one warning. The second time, you’re fired. That is the way to handle a gossip.
As easy as these appear to some, they are frightening to others. It’s a lot easier to just listen politely, imply that their message is worth spreading, and then have negative thoughts rattle around in your head all day.
If you really want to stop gossip, you’ll get mean about it. (Tweet That)
Question: How have you seen gossip poison a culture and how have you stopped it in its tracks?

0 thoughts on “See How Easily You Can Stop Gossip

  1. Jana Botkin says:

    Part of the problem is that gossip isn’t always clearly defined. The example of “did you hear what Jim said about Kate” is clear. But sometimes you have to quote another person as in passing along instructions or figuring out a problem by comparing opinions, and it can so easily slide into “yes, well he is always negative so of course he’ll be of that opinion”. Gray areas abound, so with a No Gossip policy there needs to be some education.
    Maybe one of the keys is that phrase “Did you hear what Jim said. . .?” But, that could be a “Did you hear what Jim said at the meeting because my phone beeped just then?”
    This shouldn’t be so hard! It isn’t hard for me to not gossip, but it is hard for me to recognize the moment the conversation slides downward.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Gossip is one of those things you know when you hear it.
      And I’ve tried to apply the principle of “If I have to ask what’s wrong with it, it’s wrong” to it.

    2. I often find that without a definition people don’t even realize they are doing it. Yeah, when they’re talking about who is sleeping with who, that is obvious. But much of the gossip I hear is people complaining or just talking about what was said or did they thought was wrong.
      I like how Dave Ramsey defines it – “Gossip is discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem.”
      This then includes when someone comes into your office to complain about that the bosses did to them.

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        Love that definition Jim!

  2. Dan Black says:

    Powerful post!!! Gossip can do so much harm.
    I’ve had to end many conversation or just walked away from when someone was gossiping. I think when we send a message that you will not stand for gossip, most people would respect it and not gossip to or around you.

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