Is it true? Is it necessary? Who will benefit from you sharing this information? These are the three questions I use to help people process whether or not their “sharing” is gossip. The first two questions must be affirmative and the third must have a clear beneficiary or it’s clearly gossip. I’ve used this definition as a standard in my leadership for the past 28 years and it works extremely well.
Gossip is like a cancer in a culture. If left alone, it spreads like wildfire taking down everyone in its path. And yet, I find that so many leaders have difficulty addressing gossip with their staff. Don’t be afraid to set the expectation that it won’t be tolerated.
As for drama, it’s just as important to limit that as well. Drama can rear its ugly head in many ways, but one of the most common and damaging is the drama seeker who is masterful at finding negativity in every situation and pinning one against another. They talk and think in the extremes of never and always. Their patients are always sicker than the others on the unit. They have the equipment and computers that never work. They always get stuck working holidays. They never get a break. And most often; they’ve never had anyone bravely point out their patterns.
Being around drama and gossip is like sending an asthmatic into a smoke-filled room. It’s suffocating. So stop it. Set the expectation for clean, honest, and supportive communication. Call people out on their bad behaviors and don’t let it erode your culture. A culture of positive communication creates a more desirable working environment and a better patient experience.
In Power of One, Nurse/Patient Partnership, and Coaching for Engagement and Improved Performance, we touch upon gossip in order to provide this working definition. We find it’s powerful and memorable. Find out how Baird Group training sessions can support a healthy, collaborative culture.