There are 2 types of gossip at work.

Shit and really shit.

So to look at some common categories of each:


1. Repeating third hand information

‘Sophie told me that Sarah spoke to John and he said ….’

2. Sharing private conversations

‘Well that’s not what they told me. I’ve been asked not to say anything, but…’

3. Embarrassing your colleagues

‘Peter ran a really bad workshop last week. Poor guy he lost control of the group within the first 5 minutes.’

Really Shit

4. Predicting the future

‘Well if it carries on like this then I reckon in a few weeks it’s all going to hit the fan. Unless someone tells Monty, then it could all change.’

5. Taking things personally / being a mind reader

‘He told me to remove that requirement because he doesn’t like me.’

‘He doesn’t want me in that meeting because he thinks I’m disruptive.’

6. Making shit up

‘Yes I spoke to them about that the other day.’

NB. Sending an email to someone does not count as having spoken to them.

7. Imagining outcomes

‘He won’t provide sign off by Friday. And because of that the release will be delayed, and because of that we miss our deadline, and because of that my boss won’t be happy, and because of that I won’t get a good appraisal, and then I’ll loose my job, my wife will leave me and I’ll end up on the streets sleeping in a bin bag, before dying a sad lonely death smelling of cat wee.’

So which is the wrong type?


I’m not saying don’t talk to your colleagues. I even wrote a blog post about how true power comes from sharing information.

Just don’t talk shit. These conversations are a complete waste of time. They serve no-one.

When you next get the urge to gossip, and it falls into one of the above categories – don’t. Keep it yourself.

1 Comment

  1. I’m not sure that they are a complete waste of time. People do need an opportunity to vent sometimes. Excessive amounts of gossip, especially behind peoples backs is a bit of an anti-team smell I agree, but the more interesting question is why is it happening?

    * Could it be that people feel that it is not safe to express their opinions other then covertly?

    * Or maybe an individual simply lacks the courage needed to confront someone about their behaviour?

    I guess what is more telling for me, isn’t so much those that start gossip, but how others choose to respond.

    If they think that it is just shit then they should say so (in the nices way possible). If they collude or condone malicious gossip then they aren’t helping anyone. Not the victim or the perpetrator. So why collude?

    Yet another why question 🙂

    Dysfunctional situations tend to bring out the worst in most people, so we shouldn’t judge too harshly I don’t think.

    When working in a cess pit, we all end up smelling of shit eventually 🙂


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