I think that you would agree with me when someone has hurt feelings or when conflict arises that, often, people go and tell someone. And, often, they don’t go to the person that caused it or did it. Instead, they tell someone else. That’s gossip. 

Definition of Gossip

Let’s define gossip. Gossip is when someone says something negative about someone to someone who is not part of the problem or part of the solution.

Here’s something I’d like for you to remember. And please jot down these next six lines someplace so you can look at them more closely in a few minutes.

Great people talk about vision and ideas.  Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people. Smaller people let them. Even smaller people join them. Even smaller people tell others.

Assessing Yourself

Now, I’d like for you to do an honest assessment of yourself. Ask yourself where you are when it comes to gossip. Take your pen and just put a little dot by whatever category you see yourself in today. Then, I want you take the same pen circle which category you want to be in. 

Remember we’re talking about tools, ingredients, and behaviors to make each of us a transformational leader. That change doesn’t come easily or naturally. It has to be very intentional, so take a moment and decide which category of gossip you want to be as a leader in your organization. You get to decide.

A Time Management Tool

I am asked regularly how I respond to calls and emails so quickly when I get so many. We all know that good time management includes such steps as planning and prioritizing to gain efficiency, but I tell those people that one of the best time management skills that anyone can develop as a leader is not to get involved in gossip.

If you pay really close attention, you’ll notice how easily and how often we can get drawn into gossip. One of the things that I do when people try to draw me into that kind of conversation is to ask them if I am part the problem or part of the solution or are they just gossiping about someone. Almost every time they respond that they’re seeking my counsel, to which I reply, “Well, I happen to have their cell number right here my phone. So, why don’t we just call them right now so you can share with them what you just shared with me.”

You would be amazed how little gossip I hear now. Why not make a commitment right now to go ahead and try that yourself. If you really, really focus on how many times, how many hours a week, people gossip, you might see how many hours a week we can spend in those negative conversations about other people. 

Caring about Others

Instead of those wasted hours spent in gossip, what we really should be doing is going directly to the person and talking to them in person. Most of us may not have had great experiences when we have gone to someone before. Try going in this posture and see what happens:

  1. Go in humility – Be open to being wrong and say, “I may be wrong, but can I share something with you?”
  2. Go in pre-forgiveness – Make the decision to forgive them before you go to them because the relationship is more important than the conflict.
  3. Go in love – Care more about them than how they feel about you and more than you care about yourself. 
  4. Go in truth – Speak 100% of the truth and facts because sometimes the facts may not explain the whole truth.

We should care enough about them to go talk to them directly. When you can do that, that is progress in not engaging in gossip. That also helps you become a transformational leader. 

I believe gossip may be the largest, undiagnosed addiction in our world today. I also believe if we could learn to stop gossiping and not to get offended that we could transform any organization in about forty-eight hours.

Ford Taylor is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relactional Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people.