Gossip Kills

There are many ways that you can sabotage your efforts for career advancement. A negative attitude, resistance to change, and taking things personally are just a few. The fast track to losing credibility can be summed up in one word: gossip.

If you’re ok with being viewed as immature and lacking judgment, then by all means please continue to talk about your colleagues behind their backs. But if your goal is to advance in your career path and take on a leadership role in your organization, you must avoid gossip at all costs. That means not listening to it as much as it means not spreading it. Here’s why. Leaders need to instill trust in their employees. If colleagues see you taking part in a blab fest, they are not going to feel comfortable confiding in you as their leader about their professional goals. There’s an old Italian proverb that says that if a person is gossiping about someone TO you, there’s a good chance they’ve already gossiped ABOUT you to someone else. No one trusts a gossip.

Aside from spreading negativity, which in and of itself is an issue, trashing another person screams high insecurity and low emotional intelligence. A person who is confident in his abilities doesn’t need to tear down another human being to feel good. Self-confidence and emotional intelligence are key competencies which leaders are evaluated on and hired to. You’ll never be considered a leader or leadership material if you don’t possess these important traits. Gossiping also gives the impression that you have too much free time on your hands. In a work setting, that is perceived as laziness. People who are busy doing their jobs don’t have time to “keep tabs” on the comings and goings of their colleagues, or engage in water cooler speculation about other people’s personal lives.

I remember someone saying the following to me once: “I have one person who is my confidant at work. I tell that person everything, and yes we sometimes talk about people. But I don’t consider that the same as gossip because it’s just me and this other person confiding in each other.” I had to break the news to this person that it was gossip. Allow me to explain. You share a juicy tidbit with your “confidant”. What you may not realize is that your confidant also has a confidant he shares things with — that isn’t you. That person, in turn, has a confidant that she confides in, and so on and so on. Suddenly your “juicy tidbit” is front page news (along with any other personal disclosures you may have made).

If you get the urge to gossip, don’t. Because when it comes to your career, gossip kills.

Originally published at agivingculture.typepad.com on March 3, 2016.