February 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts February 2001 Current Issue
February 2001
Short Cuts:
Rumor has it...


Nothing moves through the office grapevine faster than a juicy tidbit of gossip. Rumors of downsizing, mergers, firings (not hirings) and who was in closed-door meetings with whom are typical fodder. The trick to managing office gossip, say communications experts, is knowing how it works and how to make it work for you.

“Gossip is office intelligence, pure and simple,” says career coach and speaker Marilyn Moats Kennedy, founder of Wilmette, Ill.-based Career Strategies Inc., who has written six books on office politics. “Management feeds the grapevine to signal employees something negative is afoot, and employees use it as an early warning system.” But, adds Moats, managers should never call a formal meeting to combat false rumors. Instead, “Send something back through the grapevine,” such as a casual remark in earshot of several employees, perhaps beginning with, “In my opinion...” Many twenty-somethings tend to ignore the grapevine, Moats adds. “Their attitude is, ‘I don’t have a long-term interest. I don’t care.’”

Not all gossip is inherently negative, says communications expert Dianna Booher, of Colleyville, Texas-based Booher Consultants Inc. (www.booherconsultants.com). But when morale, company image or productivity are affected, management should step in and do damage control.


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