I've discussed workplace gossip here before, and what bosses can do to prevent it or at least reduce the potential harm, but there are a couple of hyper-modern developments that I didn't get into: reality television and the Internet. These two things have created a culture of "sharing", for lack of a better word, that encourages people at play or work to divulge the most mundane and private details of their lives to others—the kind of information that one previously might only have shared with family or best friends.
Many people argue that workplace gossip is harmless and in fact brings co-workers together as friends, increasing trust and honesty. However, if you watch soaps, you know where this can lead. In the right (or wrong) hands, even a superficially innocuous complaint or tidbit of information can grow way out of proportion, leading often to disastrous (and on television, often humorous) results. On TV, there always seems to be someone waiting for that bit of incriminating evidence with the intention to wreak havoc on someone else's life! One hopes this is not quite the case in real-life workplaces.
Anyone who watches soap operas (Coronation Street is my favourite), shows like Desperate Housewives or reality television knows that gossip is a great way to drive a fictional plot forward. In fact, without gossip, TV would be a wasteland of talk shows, game shows, sports, documentaries and news. (And I don't mean celebrity news!) Heck, without gossip, our lives would probably be far less interestinguntil we found something else to talk about.
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