Monday, November 21, 2005
IS GOSSIP GOOD? Word origins sometimes deliver startling messages. The term "gossip" turns out to be related to the word "God" and originally had to do with "God'sSibs" (referring to religious caretakers, Godparents, for example). Historically, perhaps, it was thought that people talked about you because they cared and wanted the best for you. When I grew up, gossip was considered both bad and declasse. We had an embroidered piece on the wall from my Aunt Garnet "There's so much bad in the worst of us and so much good in the best of us, it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us." Another saying was "Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about events, dull people talk about people." But lately organizations and relationships are so complicated especially with virtual teams. We don't see people every day or even once a year, and it's hard to really know them. You can work more easily with people if you know what's happening in their daily lives, what they're struggling with. Is it OK to talk about people if we're really trying to understand them better in the interest of cooperation?