I’m going to step away from tax land today, and put on my business coaching hat.
But don’t get me wrong — we are diligently working through many of our business owner client files and getting a significant thrill from being able to help so many of our business owner clients save a TON on their taxes this year.
A couple of weeks ago, I urged you to spread the word about our services in a helpful sort of way. A small favor I asked is if you know anyone who could benefit from professional tax services over the next month or two, to please send them my way.
But today I want to address a more toxic form of “spreading the word”: workplace gossip.
Fortunately, this hasn’t been a big problem for Team Dickmann Tax Group, but I’ve seen it before, and it can get ugly.
How to Eliminate Workplace Gossip in Businesses
“Be warned: A person content to sit with you and criticize others will speak critically of you out of earshot.” – Richelle Goodrich
There are clearly some big problems going on in our world today. And on the nightly news, we often get the 1,000-foot view of how divided our nation is. Yet a topic like gossip is a bit more up-close and personal to us because it’s something many of us face everyday. How should we respond to it?
“Everyone thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
– Leo Tolstoy
You see, this topic is touchy. Why? Because no one wants to admit that they are partaking in workplace gossip. Instead, men and women across the country will instead refer to gossip, if not verbally than at least rationally, as confirmation. Here’s what I mean…
Jonathan in Sales
When fellow employees get on your nerves regularly, it’s easy to keep those feelings inside. Why start drama with him or her when your team has too much to get done?
But because Jonathan in sales is regularly late on reporting data, which helps you do your job, you may start to seek confirmation that Jonathan is doing his job poorly — this way, others will know why your job might be suffering as a result.
At the core of us seeking confirmation is our desire to be right. Such a longing is natural human behavior. However, that reality can often lead to messy outcomes.
So when you are out to lunch with Sarah in accounting, and mention to her how slow Jonathan is at reporting his numbers, you receive a sort of “thrill” when Sarah confirms she has noticed Jonathan’s poor performance.
Where does that thrill come from? Scientifically speaking, addictive chemicals like adrenaline and dopamine fill your brain because you feel validated, important and dominant.
But guess who suffers from bringing others into your frustration? Jonathan in Sales does.
My first encouragement for you is to shed this sort of “confirmation” from your work/life tendencies, and call it what it is: gossip.
We are all guilty of it at some point or other, so let’s name it and figure out a better way forward.
If you are on the receiving end of someone seeking “confirmation”, like Sarah in accounting from our example above, try responding to gossip with a question like, “How could we improve the situation (Jonathan’s lack of reporting skills)?” Which can help turn focus away from being right and back on to finding a helpful solution. Who benefits from workplace gossip being redirected into something positive? Jonathan in Sales does.
In a 2016 Globis Survey, 95% of managers surveyed said they avoid difficult conversations because they’re afraid of lowering their employees’ self-esteem.
Often, we avoid constructive conversations with others because we are afraid of hurting their feelings, and instead decide to hurt their feelings behind their back — when they might have no idea what they’re doing wrong.
The first encouragement I would give you is to promote an environment where constructive feedback is encouraged.
Take preventative measures, even if you don’t think your business struggles with this now, so that if gossip comes up in the office, your employees know how to handle it. A key question that should be asked, if someone else’s setbacks ever get brought up, should be, “Have you talked with Jonathan about it?”
Conducting a private conversation with the person you are frustrated with will decrease tension in your office, and lead to strengthened trust, increased morale, team bondedness, lessened anxiety and increased production.
While you’re letting others know about our ability to help with taxes, know we also care about you and your business. It might be a difficult conversation to address, but one I think is worth it for your team to flourish … Jonathan in Sales included.
Does your team have a way to fight against workplace gossip? I would be interested to hear how. As always, let us know if there is any way we can help.
Feel free to share this post with a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.
Dickmann Tax Group