Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Chances are you are part of a team of CSRs. Maintaining a positive dynamic to that team is critical to your success. Throughout the day, you depend on each other, help each other with problems, and cover for each other. Unlike the brief interaction with a customer, this is a long-term relationship. You spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your family!

So it makes sense to give these relationships some of the proper care and feeding that you would any other relationship. And in the work world, nothing erodes trust and teamwork faster than gossip. There is a famous quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Small minds talk about people; mediocre minds talk about events; great minds talk about ideas." I’ll take that a step further. Truly small minds talk about people and events they know.

A gossip talks about the people closest too them. They betray trusts by repeating things said in confidence. They grind the rumor mill by spreading half-truths and sometimes outright lies. They instigate and promote division. Clearly, this person is a burden for the team to carry.

If you are dealing with a gossip, take a cue from the zoo and “Don’t Feed the Animals.” If you gossip with them or even just listen, you are contributing to the problem. If you can, excuse yourself or subtly try to change the conversation. If they try to engage you in gossip, respond with an “I don’t know anything about that,” or an “I don’t know what to say about that one!” Engaging in conversation with the gossip or even just nodding in response, gives the gossip the go-ahead to continue. Either end the conversation or change the subject.

If you are the gossip, realize that though you may enjoy your role as Public Information Officer #1, you are doing damage, even if you don’t see it. Trust me; just like you are talking about people, they’re probably talking about you. If you absolutely must talk, keep it at a higher level. Refrain from talking about co-workers and even your personal life to an extent. Talk about issues, talk about TV, movies, or celebrities (always a good source for gossip).

The rule for gossip is if someone is so willing to discuss someone else’s business, they’re probably willing to discuss yours too.

Yes, loose lips sink ships but more importantly they destroy teams.