Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Feb 25, 2006

"Good" Gossip.

Instructor, Caroline Bender

Scoop. Skinny. Scuttlebutt.
The Goss.

Inside information is the secret weapon on the intra-office battlefield. Love to get it, love to have it, love to pass it on.

But there is also "bad" gossip -- stuff you wish you hadn't heard, and are sorry to know.

case study:
On a rare sunny afternoon, you actually take your full lunch hour -- outside the office -- and arrange to meet with an old friend you do not work with (anymore), at a small spot blocks from the building, after twelve. Perfect get-away opportunity, right?

Until the hostess at this tiny restaurant helpfully seats you right next to 2 co-workers. She says, "You can be by the window, so you can see your friend!" The 3 of you nod hello (though you all think, "$#!+") then you try to disappear, and they try to talk in code. This is when you realize, because you can't help it, that they are comparing their painfully sad marriages -- not in a "top this" way, but in a "I can't breathe most mornings" way.
And this is not good gossip.

Good gossip has work-relevance. Good gossip provides strategic direction for the things that really matter, like raises, and desk locations, and who your boss next year. Good gossip makes you immediately think of who you know who wants and needs this information.

Bad gossip is the horrible thing about you that you hope a co-worker would not discover. Bad gossip makes you feel like you should promise the subject you would never repeat what you wouldn't admit to them you heard.

Overhearing execs fighting.....Good
Obligatory, in fact. IM was invented for the sole reason of transcribing high-level blow-ups to those out of earshot. All its other uses came later.

Overhearing spouses fighting...Bad
People who have marital spats by phone (or in person, if you work in one of those kinds of companies) are so deep in the moment that they forget where they are. And you see and hear sides of them you will think about in all subsequent interactions.

Negative feedback....Good
If it is your nemesis, your boss, or your freeloading colleague.

Positive diagnosis.... Bad
Never has "what's heard in the cube stays in the cube" been more true

Who's zoomin' who...Good
When they are both single.

Who's zoomin' who...Bad
When they are not.

Lovey-dovey baby-talk.... Good
Because it's repeatable to the point of becoming a catch-phrase

Creative swearing... also Good
And for the same reason

And usually nauseating.


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