Gossip can be difficult to avoid because it’s all around us. You’d be hard pressed to find a TV show or movie that doesn't have gossip in it. The same goes for books. There are even “news” programs dedicated entirely to gossip.
We’re all guilty too. At one time or another, just about everybody has shared a nice juicy piece of gossip with a coworker—or two. Even if you haven’t been the one doing the talking, you've probably found yourself standing in the break room sharing a good gossipy laugh until the person you’re talking about walks in.
In fact, gossip has become so prevalent that it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that a little gossiping every now and then is perfectly acceptable behavior. Don’t believe it. Gossip can end relationships. In a business setting, gossip can end the business relationship you were counting on for income.
There are definitely times when it’s hard to decide if what someone is saying has crossed the line from being relevant business information over to providing observations or details that are outside the scope of the current situation. You can’t stop people from gossiping. But there are a few rules you can follow so gossip won’t interfere with your ability to build solid and successful business relationships. Here are three:
1. Don’t say things about other people you wouldn't be willing to say to them directly. This isn't the old adage of only saying good things about other people. In business, sometimes the facts are the facts and they may not always be nice facts. But they are what they are, and sometimes those facts are the difference between securing, keeping, or losing an account. Don’t embellish. Stick with the truth and you won’t have any trouble remembering what you said if you have to repeat it.
2. Remember that how you speak about your co-workers, business associates, and clients is the way your co-workers, business associates, and clients believe you speak about them in their absence. When you speak well of the people you do business with, you’ll be building business relationships based on trust and respect. That won’t happen if you gossip.
3. There might be people you’re thinking about doing business with who gossip to you. We all want to be liked, and we definitely want to build our business relationships to increase our income, but don’t give into the gossip game thinking it will help. That’s not to say you shouldn't do business with people who like to gossip. You might find yourself bluffing your way through a few uncomfortable conversations, but stick to your business strengths and ethics.
When you follow simple rules like these, you’ll be putting yourself in a better position to build solid long-term business relationships…. Well, that’s what I heard.
Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach and Speaker with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, and sales and product training. He holds key accounts with a national sustainable packaging company, is a motivational speaker, and provides sales training to individuals and groups. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at Luoma@snet.net.