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  • Bartleby
  • Pssst! Want to read something about rumour and innuendo?
  • Gossip in the workplace
  • GOSSIP IS EVERYWHERE. On one estimate, from Megan Robbins and Alexander Karan of University of California, Riverside, people spend 52 minutes a day on average talking about other people. Gossip pervades the workplace. You hear it in conversations among colleagues; you know who to go to for the latest round of it. You can tell when gossip is imminent: voices suddenly lower and there may well be some theatrical looking around to check that the target is not in earshot. Sometimes it is offered up explicitly, like a vol-au-vent at a drinks party: “Do you want to hear a bit of gossip?” And yes, you almost certainly do.

    Managers have grapevines, too. Scholars of gossip (what happens when these people all get together at a conference is a subject for future research) tend to describe it as informal exchanges of evaluative information about people who aren’t there. Those exchanges can be complimentary as well as critical. By that definition, bosses who do not gossip about employees may not be doing their job properly.

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