May 01, 2005

Good day, team,

The coach’s challenge for this week is to refrain from gossiping and spreading rumors. I don’t think we gossip intentionally. My observation is that it tends to “happen to us.” That is, we hear or see something about someone else that we think is odd, or creates an emotional reaction in us, or is inconsistent with our values, and we feel compelled to share it with a third party whom we think wants to hear about it. If we are lucky enough to remember how painful it is to discover that someone is gossiping or spreading rumors about us, we may refrain from sharing this information with another. But, unfortunately, we usually don’t think about what we’re doing, and we go ahead and speak negatively about someone else.

Now the receivers of the gossip are in a tough position. If they’re trying to behave impeccably, they may remind us that gossip never benefits anyone or simply not at all. All too often, they may agree and then become gossipers themselves to yet another person.

It’s hard to remember that all rumors start with one person, but it’s true. A rumor can spread like a virus throughout an organization within minutes. Ironically, as a rumor spreads, the initial story gets changed many times over in the telling, and the rumor may end up being more untrue than accurate. A person’s reputation can be greatly impacted in a matter of moments when a rumor about her or him is spread throughout a team. An entire organization can suffer for months when a rumor starts and people become distracted by the story being spread around. Look at what happens to the stock market when rumors spread about a company’s earnings.

Observe your own behavior this week around gossip and rumors. How often do you make negative comments to your team members about other people in your organization? Ask yourself if what you’re about to tell someone else is really important for that person to know. Will it negatively impact another? Do you feel good about what you’re saying about another person? Would you want someone to say those things about you? Do you hear yourself repeating what may be an embellishment or inaccurate story about someone or an event? Are you trying to behave impeccably?

Will Rogers wrote, “So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.” Try to say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.

Use the power of your words to support the truth about and appreciation of others. Then you will speak with integrity.

Have a great week!


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