Magazine article Training & Development

Did You Hear It through the Grapevine?

Magazine article Training & Development

Did You Hear It through the Grapevine?

Article excerpt

Have you heard any good rumors lately? If so, you might have a better idea of what's going on in your organization than those who abstain from gossip. That's one conclusion that could be drawn from the results of the recent "FaxForum" survey on office gossip.

Who's involved in all those water-cooler chats? Actually, all respondents admitted to engaging in gossip. Twenty-one percent said they are frequent participants. Most (64 percent) said they "sometimes" engage in office gossip; 14 percent said they do so rarely. Predictably, most (71 percent) prefer to gossip with their peers; 57 percent gossip with "anyone I feel comfortable with." Bosses (36 percent) and subordinates (29 percent) were less popular as partners in gossip.

The topics of speculation are mostly work-related. Respondents said they gossip more about business changes and challenges (86 percent) and office intrigues (79 percent) than they do about people's private lives (57 percent). Gossip methods are low-tech; only 29 percent of respondents said that people in their workplaces gossip by e-mail.

Why is gossip such a widespread workplace activity? Unfortunately, many organizations provide few official means of learning what's going on. In fact, 57 percent of respondents said the rumor mill is "the only way to find out what's really happening" in their organizations. Fewer than a third (29 percent) chose the more neutral description of gossip as "a distraction from work, but neither a constructive nor destructive force. …

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