When things are going well for a business, gossip can be a destructive force, damaging morale, creating cliques, and hampering productivity. In the worst of times, though, it's best to have a network of informants to help stay on top of all the political maneuverings taking place off-the-record in the office. That's why LinkedIn, the social network for professional networking, has chimed in with some tips on how to become an expert gossip in the workplace, while using LinkedIn to your advantage.
Nicole Williams, Connection Director at LinkedIn, provided the tips in a blog post over at the official LinkedIn Blog. She acknowledges that gossip is generally frowned upon, but says that eliminating it outright isn't "consistent with human nature." From the blog post:
Whether you like it or not, gossip is a part of the career landscape. While you should absolutely steer-clear of the malicious, bullying, back-stabbing, falsehood kind of word-on-the-street, there are times and places when getting and having the goods are going to be hugely advantageous to your career.
Williams' first tip is that to receive good, informative gossip, you've got to be ready to give it as well. She suggests being up-to-date on all of your social networks and your colleagues' recent status updates to be ready to provide some pertinent info.
Her second tip is to be prepared for whatever gossip may come your way. The LinkedIn Today newsfeed is suggested as a good place to keep up on all of the industry news that could affect your career, but there are plenty of other online sources where workers can obtain up-to-the-minute information.
The third tip is to learn how to make rumors stop when they are about you. To do this, Williams suggests outing the truth without embarrassing yourself, confronting bully gossips, and getting out ahead of the rumor mill by providing plenty of good news about yourself on your social network profiles.
Before you criticize LinkedIn too much for encouraging rumor mongering, realize that gossip is a part of the socializing that defines humanity. Whether or not you choose to participate, in a sufficiently large workplace you will still have to be prepared to deal with it, and its consequences, on a weekly basis.