A new book blasts office gossip for its negative impact on employee health and productivity. In “The No-Gossip Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to a Healthy, High Performing Work Environment,” author Sam Chapman also explores the benefits – and potential pitfalls – of candid "authentic" communication as a strategy for employers.
The president of a Chicago-based public-relations firm, Chapman instituted a “No-Gossip Zone” at his office as a quick fix for an isolated problem. The next thing he knew was that productivity and morale had skyrocketed from the ban, he said, and other employers were knocking on his door for advice on establishing their own gossip-free zones.
He defines gossip as negative and “corrosive chatter” outside the presence of the subject, and explains that it eats into productivity and sours the atmosphere.
In a recent interview with Canada’s Globe & Mail, he drew a distinction between types of gossip. Trashing public figures is not so bad. It’s gossiping about co-workers that crosses the line, and he has fired three people for indulging it. They were dissecting him and his management style, he explained, and discussing the ways they would manage the company better.
His recommendation for eliminating gossip is establishing “authentic communication,” which he defines as "speaking your truth instead of holding it back.”
The interviewer pointed out that people are often shown the door for complete candor. The author acknowledged the dilemma, but stands by his assertion. Emotional honesty at work delivers benefits, Chapman explains, because the alternative is much worse. “Tapping off your feelings, choking back your emotions, getting stuck therefore in those emotions, talking behind each other’s back, letting negative commentary flow regularly about your colleagues. These are the things I’m trying to do away with.”
It is even all right to cry. “Have your sadness,” he says.
His message is that employers can expect higher profits and higher revenue from establishing a “no-gossip” zone. You get “more loyalty from your employees, more employee happiness and more productive hours.”
Sources: Sam Chapman: “The No-Gossip Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to a Healthy, High Performing Work Environment”; Globe and Mail