OFFICE COMMUNICATION: Your mother probably told you not to gossip. And she was right — sort of. Cruel gossip is wrong. Yet careers experts say that work-related gossip is not always bad: it can even help you get ahead in your job.
The best thing about gossip is that it helps keep you informed of what’s going on in your company. This is especially helpful if you work for a larger firm. Don’t underestimate the value of chatting with colleagues in other departments — they may be aware of developments that have not yet reached your area of responsibility.
Being open to casual conversation is helpful for managers, too, according to Kaushik Srinivasan, managing consultant for people and change at PricewaterhouseCoopers India. “Establishing a personal touch with team members helps get work done faster,” Srinivasan told The Wall Street Journal.
"Establishing a personal touch helps get work done faster." Kaushik Srinivasan
Colleagues can also act as sounding boards for new ideas. “In an informal one-on-one setting, people are generally more willing to share their thoughts as it doesn’t follow the hierarchical set-up of an organization,” explains Rahul Pandit, president and chief operating officer at Lemon Tree Hotels. Pandit recommends that you “reach out to people across functions and departments” to get a variety of opinions.
In the US, office gossip seems to be declining, at least according to a survey by the staffing agency The Creative Group. In 2008, the agency says, 84 per cent of employees reported that gossip was common in their companies. Four years later, that figure has dropped to 63 per cent.
If you’ve ever been the victim of unpleasant gossip, you will find Business Spotlight columnist Ken Taylor’s advice useful. Listen to what Ken has to say in this podcast. And remember that your mother was right: cruel gossip is wrong.