I was having a discussion in one of my leadership classes today about how we sometimes talk about people behind their backs. There is damage done to relationships when individuals gossip about a third party who is not present. Here are some guidelines we can consider to change our attitudes and make the world a better place.
- Establish an environment of trust. Teach leaders to always reinforce candor and encourage others to do the same.
- Always assume the “mute button” is defective. That is, try to speak well of people even if they are not able to hear you.
- Be forthright if you have an issue with another person, but do in in a kind way using the Golden Rule.
- Do not engage in gossip about other people and inflame an existing conversation. Just opt out of these hurtful discussions when they come up.
- Remind people who want to denigrate other people how they would feel if someone was doing that to them.
- Try to establish a social norm in your sphere of influence that values people for their contributions rather than there deficiencies.
- Increase your ratio of positive to negative comments about other people. One good idea is to keep track of these for a week. Just put hash marks on a 3X5 card. Then change your ratio by at least 50%.
- Model openness with other people by discussing the habit of talking about people to their face rather than behind their backs.
- When there is a disconnect with another person, make it a habit to assume the best intent rather than the worst.
- Increase Transparency. Challenge any gag rule to see if it is really required. Often it is more of a paradigm than a necessity.
These tips are all common sense. The world would be a better place if we all made them common practice.