Gossip – Creeping poison or social fertilizer?

On the way past the coffee kitchen: "Have you heard ... Yesterday Claus told me that in a personal conversation he was told that ..." damn, the coffee machine covers the rest of the sentence with a double espresso - the grinder let me miss the most interesting part. The thoughts circle: "How annoying! Should I ask - today at badminton in the afternoon? "  

Ever experienced - in one way or another? Gossip, rumors, city talk, office whisper, latrine slogan - Whatever you call it, where there are people there are rumors and gossip.

Basically, there is nothing wrong with being aware of the very specific dynamics. It is at the same time glue and lubricant of our social coexistence. We need and demonize it, at the same time. We do it every day, and we come across a variety of masks - from neighborhood gossip to fake news.

But on the anatomy of interpersonal communication - what is it?

We pick something up to air the veil ...


The educational level of a citizen was not always as good as it is today. Being able to read and write was by no means a matter of course until the Middle Ages, and was essentially reserved for the clergy. Even the nobility could not do both. News was relayed personally by minstrels and messengers - the oral tradition was for a long time the only information channel.


Even in the present stories have a special meaning for us. As children we were told the world in the form of stories. We grew up with stories, and whenever we hear them in adulthood, that's what our inner child is talking about. This makes us so receptive to a good story, whether it's the latest blockbuster movie or the boss's weird tie.

We crave the "Did you hear that ...", we need that "Imagine, there is ...". Is it reprehensible? Not necessarily! Is it despicable? Not if you pay attention to the fine line between "telling someone something" and "talking about someone". I can find the limit in which I ask myself if I would say what I want to say in the form even if that person were standing next to me. If I can not answer that question with a clear yes, I start slipping into gossip. That's the point where I should take myself out of such a conversation.

Incidentally, this applies online as well as offline!


In addition, when sharing information is always a reasonable source criticism. Yet criticism does not mean "criticizing" our modern understanding of words, but rather a humanistic understanding, that is, the investigation and questioning of a state of affairs. Passing things on just because they sound lurid should not be an option. It would be smarter to question whether a story can be true - or even ask the source itself if that's really true.

If one neglects this source criticism one finds oneself fast coloring information while passing on. We do not consciously, and that is controlled by our humanity, by our previous knowledge and our experiences. We rarely pass on facts but our view of things. As anyone who has ever played Silent Post knows, after passing it on quickly, something comes out that was never said or meant. So it may happen that one is suddenly in the area of intrigue or bullying. Even if you never intended to do that. Such rumors can sometimes be very persistent, even if you corrected facts, and perhaps even apologized. A destroyed call remains mostly destroyed.


Another aspect emphasizes why oral tradition is so important: gestures and facial expressions, tone of voice, speed of speech and pauses.

Personal communication is so much more than the written word. Anyone who has ever been misunderstood in an email or text message will be able to confirm that. 60 - 65% of our human communication happens nonverbally! We do it all the time, even if our mouths are closed - in fact we can not do non-communication if we follow Paul Watzlawick's quote.

And now what?

Here we close our digression, and return to the actual topic - the Gossip, colloquially for informal flow of information. It is neither good nor bad, it will take place, whether we like it or not. As part of a company, we must be careful to provide this logosphere with the right information at the right time. If decisions are taken in the ordinary course of business, they must be communicated to the employees. This should be done as promptly as possible, and ideally also in person, i.e. verbally.

Otherwise, such messages will always find their way into the company on one or the other channel. Considering the above-mentioned constellation of interpersonal communication, it is relatively likely that the information that then arrives at the company may be partially or completely different from what it actually would have to announce. Subsequently, it may happen that the mood tilts, although this would not be necessary.

Face the truth - we are human and we behave like humans. With all the technification of the time in which we live, we are what we are. We can not suppress our humanity in our daily work.

Incidentally, Claus gets only the office on the other side of the aisle, because on his office page, the old windows are exchanged for new ones. And now be honest - what would you have thought? What would you have told?

Unser Leben mit Robotern
Flurfunk – Schleichendes Gift oder sozialer Dünger...


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Friday, 04 December 2020