Disaster On Tap: Eliminate Water Cooler Talk

There is one thing that will kill any momentum you have a s a business leader. That momentum-killer:


If you, as a leader, participate in gossip you will crush the morale of your team. You should have no tolerance for gossip at all in your business and from your team.

Watch today’s video for my thoughts on gossip and how to eliminate it from your workplace.

Here is a transcript of today’s episode:

Disaster On Tap: Eliminate Water Cooler Talk

Hi, it’s Dave Lorenzo and today, we’re hanging around the water cooler to make a really important point. You, as a business leader, should never, ever be involved in water cooler conversation. This is what I affectionately refer to as gossip. But if you do need to be involved or if you find yourself sucked into a water cooler conversation, here are three rules to follow to make sure you stay on the right side of things when it comes to your employees and focusing on keeping a positive and professional image in the workplace.

Number one, you always want to defend those who are not in the room. Really, really important that no matter what is said, even if you don’t have anything nice to say, you take a position of defending the person who’s not in the room and you can do this simply by saying, “Hey there are two sides to every story and I don’t think it’s productive or even fair to discuss things without the other person being here. So let’s not enter into a conversation like that without so and so being with us.”

Second thing I think you should always do when it comes to water cooler conversation or gossip is to simply put it out there that that type of talk is really not acceptable in the workplace, and when I say not acceptable, I mean, you have to put your foot down and say that there’s a zero tolerance policy for gossip. And when you do that, you have to first follow rule number one and lead by example but you have to say to people, “How would you like it if someone were talking about you that way?” And you have to say to them, “Doesn’t it make you wonder what other people say when you’re not around?” These two retorts, if you will, when you hear gossip, usually will stop it dead in its tracks because they know, the employees know, that if you’re going to stop it when they’re talking about someone else, you’ll stop it when you’re talking about them, very similar to rule number one.

Rule number three, when it comes to a water cooler conversation or gossip is getting rid of passive aggressive behavior. A lot of times, when you’re in a work environment, particularly around the water cooler, you’ll find that people will say things and they mean something else or they’re taking a shot without really taking a shot. I need you to step up and challenge that passive aggressive behavior right away and say, “You know, that comment was really kind of passive aggressive. If you have something to say to me, I wish you would say it. I wish you would address it to me directly and in private.” Now, you can make this statement in public, particularly around the water cooler, and it says something even greater to the folks who are listening. But what you want to do is you want to confront the person with the passive aggressive behavior and you want to tell them that you’d love to sit with them in private and hear them out on whatever issues they’re talking about.

So the next time you find yourself around the water cooler having a conversation, if it’s not about sports or something in the news or on T.V., keep the conversation very light-hearted and keep it focused on things that are outside of the workplace because any time you engage in gossip or a water cooler conversation, it’s going to be unproductive, especially if you’re the business leader.

I’m Dave Lorenzo and this is the Four Minute Fixation and we’d like to hear your feedback and your ideas for our videos. You can find me by looking me up @TheDaveLorenzo on Twitter or on Facebook, follow me at Facebook.com/FourMinuteFixation.

You can always find us at our website http://www.fourminutefixation.com and in the meantime, I hope you make a great living and live a great life.

Here are three more resources you should check out if you want to maximize your capability as a business leader:

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How Do I Stay Motivated?

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What Should I Post On My Website?

We answer that question and discuss website content strategy in this article. Although written with a focus on the business of consulting, it has relevance for all businesses.