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How to profit from gossip

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We’ve warned you to stay away from gossip, but under the right conditions it can help you bond with co-workers and solidify your working relationships. It also lets you hook onto the grapevine so you’re not blindsided by events like layoffs.

There’s a right and a wrong way to gossip. Guidelines:

Dish praise, not dirt. Gossip is bad when you pass along embarrassing information about someone. But if you relate positive observations, that’s harmless.

Example: Initiate gossip with such phrases as “What impressed me about him was … ” or “I heard she did a great job.” Then let others chime in. They may temper your rosy remarks, but you can’t be accused of malice.

Speak openly. Watch your body language when you gossip. Don’t whisper, huddle in the corner with others or scurry behind closed doors. This will trigger resentment by those who aren’t part of your circle. Don’t act like you’re doing something naughty. As a test, imagine that anyone can overhear whatever you say.

Avoid gossip with new hires or consultants. If you don’t know someone well, you can’t tell if your comments will return to haunt you.

Don’t gossip when you’re jealous, bitter or angry. Negative emotions can lead you to blurt out mean or unfair remarks that you’ll wish you’d never said.

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