Words Can Heal


“Watching Your Words at the Water Cooler” – Part II

In the last issue, we focused on how people can be hurt by fellow workers who gossip about them. In this issue, we’ll focus on two other parties who are hurt by gossip: the person speaking and the person listening.

Quote of the Week:

“A pick-pocket looks at a saint, and sees only his pockets.”

Water Cooler Super Stars

People gossip and joke about others because of the apparent status they gain by being “the one in the know” or the center of attention at the water cooler. They feel that they are bonded with their listeners in a clique of whispers and laughter.

In truth, both the status and the bond are illusory. The “water cooler star” may be witty and incisive, but no one will credit him/her with integrity and kindness, which are more crucial traits in any but the most superficial relationship. No one trusts a gossip, because all know that they could be the next victim. Thus, a gossip will find him/herself with many listeners but few real friends.

Management, too, may come to question the integrity of employees who are known to talk too much and repeat unverified information. In addition, management’s goal of productivity is not realized by long gossip sessions around the water cooler.

On a deeper level, people who gossip damage themselves because they train themselves to focus on the negative: other people’s foibles, lacks, and wrong behavior. Even if everything they say is true, it can never be more than part of the picture.

Imagine someone going to Florence and commenting only on the litter he saw in the street. Obviously, he would be the loser.

“Late Nate” may devote every weekend to the local homeless shelter. Why focus on his tardiness instead of his generosity? “Sour Sandra” may not be sociable, but her industrious enterprising may earn the company millions, which may translate into raises for all the people who deride her during coffee break.

People who focus on the negative - both the people gossiping and the people listening - reinforce their tendency to be critical, carping, and unappreciative. While they may damage their victim’s future in the company, they certainly damage their own future, as they become more and more the carping, fault-finding, critical person everybody wants to avoid.

WCH’s grab bag of positive comments:

Next time someone’s name comes up at the water cooler, find something positive to say about him or her. It will change the atmosphere in the office, and, more importantly, it will change you.

Source: Brought to you by www.verticalresponse.com Visit www.WordsCanHeal.org for more ideas on how to heal with words. And spread the word! Send this message out today -- together we can make a difference!

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