As a leader, one of the things you will have to address is office or company gossip. Some people say gossip is just human nature and we need to accept it; I don’t agree. I think about Proverbs 26:20: “For lack of wood the fire goeth out; And where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth.”
There are people who just stir the pot, and there’s an appropriate way to address those people, but it isn’t to be indirect. Over the course of my career, there have been many situations where I had to sit down with people privately and talk to them about their approach to interpersonal relationships within a company. It’s imperative to do so kindly and in a non-reactive way. And I think it’s very important to be cautious about assuming motives or being accusatory; that’s a very dangerous road. If you can appeal to people and show them how gossip can be destructive, I think the right kind of person will rise to the challenge of changing that communication.
Be very clear that gossip isn’t a behavior you can tolerate, and that your company can’t prosper in an environment like that. Then give the person an opportunity to change that behavior.
–Jim Wiginton is the founder and managing partner of Broad Insights, an international business coaching firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. Jim possesses a wealth of business expertise, much of it gained as an executive for Michelin North America, Plastic Omnium, and Alfmeier Corporation. He has more than 5,000 hours of coaching experience, and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Paris School of Business.