Case Study #4: Gossip vs. Feedback
A vicious circle of who said what.
Communication at work is often blocked and indirect. It is not common for people to tell others what they really think and confront them immediately.
Instead, they leave meetings angry, frustrated, or bitter. But it does not end there. They need to vent. So, they speak up and complain to other people. Gossip abounds.
It was the case with Miley too.
Miley’s team was far from ideal. They formed a team to work on a project. They worked together for the first time and did not know each other. Soon, misunderstandings, lack of respect, and frustration appeared.
Miley tried to bring new ideas up. But everyone ignored her. They did what they could, but they did not collaborate or communicate. No interest. Then colleagues started to talk around. In front of clients, coworkers, and bosses, they pointed fingers at her. They called her out for not being a true team player.
Gossip spread quickly around Miley. The image of Miley went down the drain.
Soon after, the boss came to give her feedback. While she didn't have a chance to talk, he followed what was spreading in the corridors of the office. She was out of the project.
Was this decision right? What would you do?
Team communication is always a problem
Teamwork rises and falls with the quality of communication.
When you put a group of people together, it takes time for them to get used to their working styles, their motivations, and personalities. People don’t trust each other. They need to build some history.
Yet, there is usually no time to lose when you have a project with deadlines. Prioritizing performance over relationships can put you in trouble.
You usually expect people to do their jobs, nothing else. So, when they don’t, you are irritated and frustrated. But instead of expressing it directly to them, you take it with you.
Whenever you don’t say how things make you feel and communicate directly with other people, you dig yourself a hole. What often happens is you vent elsewhere, and so the vicious circle of who said what about whom starts.
“He said that you said, tralalala.”
“She said he was XYZ. We should watch out.”
“Someone needs to talk to him. She’s out of control.”
Lack of trust and open feedback sparks gossip. Some people choose to speak indirectly about others, instead of just telling what they think directly to the person. Things like:
The quality sucks. I will have to redo it.
You are too sarcastic during meetings.
Clarity can be painful. But so is gossip.
Gossip forced Miley out of the team. The damage was done. She actually decided to change jobs shortly after.