At work, gossip corrodes and erodes relationships, but we can’t stop doing it. And now, unlike times previous to social media connecting, gossip no longer merely travels in whispers around the water cooler. Now it travels at the speed of thumbs.
Tall tales at work come about when someone—usually an employee or a group of employees—accomplishes a task (or series of tasks) no one else in the organization thought could be accomplished.
Tall tales become myths at work, which are then printed as legend in the reward and recognition pamphlets and brochures at year-end events.
Internal conflicts arise and spread in the workplace, because under every conflict—and above every conflict—lie gossip (which spreads the story of the conflict far and wide through the organization) and the tall tale (which serve to spread the conflict terms and outcomes and begin the formation of an organizational cultural myth).
People in the organization outside the conflict define the issue by what they see (the presenting issue) and then by what they hear (the gossip). Then, they proceed to move the tall tale forward, inexorably, toward organizational myth.
Is there a better way?
People in organizations sometimes require dissonace, disruption and conflict to create change, expose injustices, encourage positive behavior, or to innovate for the future. But, while organizational leaders talk all the time about how “gossip isn’t tolerated here” or “the buck stops here,” the cultural conflict legends of many organizations do not support the truth and veracity of such statements.
Instead, employees, supervisors, managers and even C-Suite executives go along with the culture of gossip and tall tales, and then wonder silently why a corrosive conflict culture remains endemic; serving as the never-ending white noise beneath the bottom line considerations of the organizations.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org