Tag Archives: gossip



In our last blog post, we talked about the practice of gossip, and how poisonous it is. A lot of people think gossip is inevitable — a byproduct of human nature we can never be free of. I’m here to tell you that we can – and we must!

Why do people gossip? What’s at the root of the desire to spread negativity about other people?

Remember, we’ve said that there’s a very basic need every human has to have communication, community, and connection. Yet, where there are people, there’s conflict. If you hate to deal with conflict and you do everything to avoid it, you’ll end up with only superficial relationships. And that’s one of the foundations of gossip.

No Avoiding Conflict

If you want to be in healthy community and truly connect at a meaningful level with other people, you will have conflict. No way around it. Period. There will be times when we offend each other, when we miscommunicate, when we jump to conclusions, when we miss what the other person was trying to say.

When we have honest conversations to resolve those conflicts, we learn and grow from the experience of being challenged by another point of view. That is what makes us wiser and stronger as it helps grow our character. The way to PEACE is through truth. And peace-making is through resolving conflict, not avoiding it.

People involved in shallow, fake relationships are still trying to get their human need for connection and their desire to be heard met. Unfortunately, they feel the need to protect themselves, so they refuse to engage in authentically caring for others.

Calling into Community

When we listen to gossip, we allow these people to continue in their isolated world. We do not call them out of that lonely place into a community where they can be real, messy — and loved. We allow them to continue their pattern of negativity and unhappiness. Then we allow them to pollute our environment with their negativity and critical spirit.

You cannot have joy and criticism at the same time. So why would you trade in your joy card for this negativity? I don’t get it.

When I was in graduate school, I shared a house with four women. We agreed to some basic rules, but two really left their mark on me: 1) No gossip about fellow housemates, and 2) No listening to gossip.

That second rule kept me on the straight and narrow. I did not want to be called out by one of my friends and embarrassed because I was a gossip. I was willing to do the hard work of communicating, of working through the inevitable conflicts we faced, which deepened our relationships and led to peace and joy.

Anti-Gossip Policy

Please help me end gossip. I encourage all companies to adopt a policy to ensure that personal conflicts are being handled in a way that keeps people’s dignity and integrity in check. (Read my article on healthy conflict.) Equip your people with communication and conflict-resolution training.

I promise you, if you insist on a culture based on agreed-upon values and attract the right people to your organization, you can eliminate gossip in your workplace.

It is simple; it is just not easy!

Your Coach,




Gossip: It’s just an inevitable byproduct of human nature, right?

Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s a lie. And you can spread that around all you like!

First, let’s get clear on our definition of gossip: It’s a conversation that leaves another person in a negative light.

You know you are listening to gossip when your peer is speaking of another person in a manner that leads to a lesser opinion of that person, or leaves you with a seed of mistrust as a result of the conversation.

Is that such a big deal? Doesn’t everyone gossip at some point, and we all just deal with it and keep going?

The Danger of Gossip

No. Gossip in the workplace kills trust. It kills teamwork. It kills productivity. Most of all, it kills. Gossip separates close friends, destroys relationships and harms innocent people. It’s poison!

Why is gossip so destructive?

The danger of gossip is that it meets basic human needs and desires, but in a very dysfunctional way. We all have a need for communication, community, and connection. Each person has an innate desire to be heard, understood, and valued. When we do not have skills and opportunity to get our needs met in healthy ways, sadly we will do whatever it takes to get those needs met, even at the cost of another person. If we are not careful, when that practice (i.e., gossiping) is threatened, we will compromise our integrity and our values by, to use the cliché, throwing another person under the bus.

As a well-known preacher from the 1900s said, “Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon).

The Guilty Listener

But it takes two to tango, doesn’t it? The problem not only is in the one who first gossips, as we can assume that person suffers from self-worth issues. It also is in the fact that the rest of us listen!

Even if we never open our mouth in agreement, we reinforce the dysfunctional behavior by partnering with the speaker.

The listener to gossip is as guilty as the speaker of gossip!

Wiping Out Gossip

Maybe by now you may be picturing your workplace and thinking, well, gossiping is so entrenched in our culture we’ll never be able to wipe it out.

Not true! I can point you to many Shandel Group clients that could share their testimonies on how you can change your culture to eliminate the negative effects of gossip. It’s possible!

Next time we’ll talk about the root of the desire to gossip and how to get rid of this insidious poison!

Your Coach,