Don’t be killed by Gossip
Written by Nguyen Thi Hong Nhung – s3408763
Gossip no matter how innocent or small can ruin even a huge organization. Here is the conversation that I heard a month ago when gossip goes out of hand of *** agency- which is one of the big agencies in Vietnam.
-Hey! Hey! Have you guys heard the current problem happened for about *** agency?
-The creative team and account team have a bad argument so they loss their big client.
-Oh man! Too bad.
-You know I’ve also heard a lot bad gossips about these two teams.
-Its working place is not professional at all.
With a small real scale of 20 or so members, you think that such agency will have a strong bond between its members? Yes but far from reality, in fact, this small work place contains lots of strain and tension. The culprit was the gossips that floated in every day conversation within the office’s life.
Luckily, I had a chance to talk with Ms. Nguyen Hong Phat, on this issue. She has shown her strong capability as a leader through her 8-year experience working as the local agency in Advertising and Marketing services for beauty products such as NIVEA, L’Oréal and now is the marketing manager of Lee Jeans fashion. As the leader, she has always looked for optimal approaches to perfect her skills and knowledge in order to making her members moving together in the same direction.
Gossip is a modern communication agency expert in word of mouth marketing. We create experiences that get people talking about brands and make them feel positive about it. However, “allowing gossip in the workplace is like let members in your team swimming with sharks. Let me cut right to the chase- real leader doesn’t tolerate gossip from others, they are critic of their thinking,” said Phat. In fact, gossip actually serves to break the trust among people, create an invisible pressure, and destroy the positive working relationships (Dunbar & Dunbar, 1998). In team work, the much needed rapport between leaders and their members is trust. When team members become enemies and the workplace turns into a battleground because of gossips, it further erodes the effectiveness of teamwork and productivity that separates success from failure.
Gossip, Gossip, where are you?
Normally, from a factual errors or the lack of details, people may not know the cause and the consequences. They know something is happening so people simply gossip about the possible unknown reasons or causes (Tebbutt & Marchington, 1997). In Vietnam, people tend to have more interpersonal interaction with the claim of building a good relationship in working environment (Earley & Mosakowski, 2004). It may be a good idea to let everyone in the office knowing each other to understand them personally, and caring about their emotional life or well-being, in order to be paid off in terms of employee retention and human resource utilization. However, “in human world, the bad news is the hot news and we deserve it,” said Phat. Thus, gossips in work place tend to be more negative hurting people’s life rather than contribute for a good community.
“Everyone! We need to discuss”
We know that gossip is a common human trait that everyone engages in. Sure! The problem is not the gossip. It’s just a tool to foster a supportive and positive response to a problem that is needed to change (Kurland & Pelled, 2000).The problem is the way we- humanity- use it.
“Playing with strict rules to stop gossip in workplace will bring leaders to nowhere but put them in ‘the creative stories’ of their team members,” said Phat. She suggests the best way of dealing with gossip at work is to discuss it openly. This way will let people a chance to deal with personal conflicts among team members and aware each individual’s responsibility for its consequences.
Build a cooperative, supportive and helpful workplace for team members
Regarding the internal leadership, leader of an agency should really demonstrate his/her abilities in everyday action and encourage their team to inherit the culture. Of course, this is easier said than done and it depends on personalities of each individual. However, where mutual trust is encouraged in a team, it is less likely to be damaged by malicious gossip (Neuman & Baron, 1998). “If you’re the team leader, try to foster an environment that promotes of good conversations and positive things providing help and support your team,” said Phat.
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Bonander, R 2013, ‘Office Gossip’, image, Askmen, viewed 9 January 2013, <http://www.askmen.com/money/professional_150/176_professional_life.html>.
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Dunbar, R & Dunbar, RIM 1998, ‘Grooming, gossip and the evolution of language’, Harvard University Press.
Earley, PC, & Mosakowski, E 2004, ‘Toward culture intelligence: Turning cultural differences into a workplace advantage’, The academy of management executive, vol18, no.3, p.151-157.
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