Monday, February 20, 2012

Wag Vs Angie: Speak Up or Shut Up?

Welcome back! Happy Wag Vs Angie day to you all! I've taken the liberty of getting rid of Monday from the calendar by renaming it something more interesting. You're welcome.

Today we're talking about gossip. You can see Shane's plan of action/no action over here. Sit back, have a read, and let us know how you would deal with the following situation:

While sitting in a crowded cafĂ© you overhear a table of 3 people talking about a coworker. It’s unimportant until you hear your friend’s name. When you realize he/she is the person they are discussing you begin to pay a little more attention. The gist of the conversation is that if your friend doesn’t change his/her attitude or the way they interact in the office, there is a chance your friend will lose the job. Do you tell your friend what you heard or write it off as idle gossiping? If decide to share the information, what do you say?

Can I speak up AND shut up? I think I can.

I hate gossip, unless it's between close friends in a closed environment and it's about someone I don't like, of course. What irritates me more than gossip, is listening to people talking about something that means absolutely nothing to me about someone I couldn't care less about. When I hear negative things about my friends, I do one of two things.

1. I defend my friend.


2. I close my trap, make a mental note of who is talking shit about my friend, add them to my list of sworn enemies, and write what they are saying off as complete jealous bullshit.

Frankly, I consider most gossip to be just that; Jealous bullshit. Unfortunately, there are times you will hear things about someone close to you that impacts a life. In those cases, you have to find a way to bring this to your friend's attention. We're not talking about overhearing someone saying your friend's pants are hideous or that they suck at putting on makeup. This information can destroy the livelihood of a person, their family, and perhaps even their long term career/earning potential.

There was a game we used to play in grade school. The game started by everyone sitting in a circle on the floor. The first person whispered a sentence in the ear of the person next to them. This sentence was repeated as each person whispered to the person next to them. The goal was to see how convoluted and misconstrued the message would get by the time it had come full circle. I don't recall the sentence EVER coming back exactly right. What if you're mistaken?

In the above situation it's best that you don't know the people at the hen party, and even if you do, it's probably best to pretend that you don't. There is little sense adding fuel to the fire or giving your friend information that isn't germane to the outcome. Telling your friend what was said about him/her is going to cause a lot of hurt. It can even destroy your friendship if it's not handled properly. So how do you go about addressing the issue without running that risk? I don't know that you can, but I would sure as hell try.

Maybe like this: Open a dialog

"I really need to learn to filter myself at work. I complain too much and I'm sure my co-workers and bosses don't appreciate me bringing my personal drama to the office. I heard some people talking at lunch the other day about a co-worker and how they might be on the short list to be let go for that very reason. How do you deal with it?"

Friends are supposed to be able to tell each other anything, but I would be incredibly uncomfortable saying... "You need to watch your back. People at your job are complaining about you and it's not pretty at all."

I have other friends that would be much better suited to breaking this kind of news to someone. I'm probably too "round about" with my approach, but eventually I would hope that I could make the point without drawing blood. You have insight into your friend's life, the stress they are under, and how they normally deal with things, but you don't always see them in the same way that their co-workers do. By opening a dialog and asking their advice on dealing with the situation you give them an opportunity to examine their own actions in the office and in helping YOU they can find solutions to issues they may not even realize they have. It's always easier to give advice than it is to be the recipient of it, so use that to your advantage!

That's what I've got, ya'll! Don't forget to check out what Shane has to say over at WagtheDad! Now, tell me what you think. How would YOU address this?

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