Gossip is always a bad thing

Rumors: gossip, gossip and defamation

Rumors are invented by envious people, spread by fools and believed by idiots. That is a famous bon mot. The British publicist Cyril Northcote Parkinson put it a bit more elegantly at the time: "Wherever there is a vacuum in communication, poison, rubbish and rubbish are thrown in." So it's no wonder the wildest Speculation have a boom in times of crisis. Then the nerves are on edge, the insecurity grows, especially when jobs are cut or jealousies and rivalries get out of hand. Then the rumor mill boils up, and the majority distrust official statements and prefer to orientate themselves on hearsay. Behind the scenes it is said that the latter is actually “overwhelmed” with the task, that the latter is not “of integrity” enough and after all she just “slept up”. Typical whisper propaganda ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: rumors, gossip or bullying?

Gossip and gossip are used synonymously, rumors are somehow related to it - what are the differences? And how is that related to bullying?

The term rumor (in English: rumor) comes from Middle Low German smelled and means something like shouting, shouting. Synonyms like Ondit (French for: one says), but above all whisper propaganda, fairy tales or coarse Latrine slogan describe an untrusted message that is viewed negatively by society.

A rumor is and is targeted against a person sold as truth. It can therefore be an instrument in an intrigue and used for power games.

According to prevailing opinion, the term “gossip” is etymologically derived from the onomatopoeic noise of the knocking out of wet clothes in public washing areas. There the women met, washed dirty laundry and exchanged news - Gossipers in the literal sense.

Contrary to rumors, it is unspecific and denotes negative or respectively spicy information a person who is not intended for the public. Both can be part of bullying.

The very existence of rumors about one person is not bullying. Bullying is only spoken of when one is involved systematically for a longer period of time a person is singled out over and over again to harm him.

The psychology behind gossip

Loquacity is by no means a female domain. Most scientists today assume that the desire to spread rumors is innate in us. To Primeval times gossip was already vital, believes US psychologist Frank McAndrew from Knox College in Illinois:

Anyone who revealed bad things about important people in the community rose in the Respect of the group thus improving its chances of breeding. First and foremost, rumors would be a means to stand out.

But they also have a meaning for the audience: Gossip and gossip are especially important where you cannot observe everything yourself. That has a psychological effect, because it strengthens that We-feeling extraordinary.

There are no big differences between men and women. According to the Bielefeld sociologist Jörg Bergmann, they only clap differently in terms of content: Both like to chat about the opposite sex.

However, women either become significantly more hateful or more compassionate in their narratives, while men do more emotionless be. Thematically, it is primarily about the neighbour's new car, the colleague's iPhone or the figure of his lover.

Two sides: the desire for indiscretion

Gossip is more regular Balm for our brain. At the beginning of 2006, the scientist Alex Mesoudi from the Scottish St. Andrews University examined its effect, had his test subjects read four texts and then summarized them. This vademecum was read by other test subjects and condensed again.

After four generations of text, the researcher finally compared the result with the original: Stuck particularly well in memory were those passages that contained piquant details like lies and infidelity. They were reproduced more precisely and also more extensive than those passages that only conveyed facts about a person.

The indiscretion just fascinates. We delight in the secret knowledge advantage and indulge in the unbelievable stupidity of the others. But the short-term feeling of superiority of proclaiming something that no one knows yet can quickly turn out to be Pyrrhic victory prove:

  • Firstbecause some of the dirt always sticks to the thrower.
  • Secondlybecause blasphemy does not exactly indicate a noble character.
  • Thirdbecause the communication may turn out to be untrue. Then the author is either considered a liar or an unsuspecting pomposity.

And hardly anything damages a career as badly as the image of one located leak.

Those who gossip block their way, warn not a few HR consultants. For the workforce like Gossip is a wonderful regulative to relieve pressure and poke at bosses and other evolutionary mistakes.

But the further you rise in the hierarchy, the more dangerous and justiciable it becomes. In top management, talkativeness even becomes a career killer. A lack of discretion discredits everyone no matter how promising newcomers. The suspicion is too heavy, he could give in to his inclination even in sensitive areas.

Spreading rumors as a strategy

One should be extremely careful and only use secured information Speculative ping pong participate. But above all, you should choose between harmless small talk and defamatory gossip distinguish. The latter is an absolute taboo - and only the former is a useful tool for self-marketing.

Like it for example two Dutch officers made: They vowed to report only good things about the others during their term of office. Wherever the duo appeared, it spread arias of praise about the partner of the pact - with success: after a few years, the two were the youngest admirals in the Netherlands. The effect later went into science as Dutch Admiral’s Paradigm a.

You can find more tips on how to deal with rumors in our free PDF HERE for download.

Blasphemy at work: warning, dismissal, imprisonment

Alleged gossip at work can far-reaching consequences to have.

There is a hierarchy of what is gossip, what is rumor, and what is defamation or defamation is counted. It is about defamation offenses, which are dealt with in the Criminal Code § 186 and 187.

The basic right to freedom of expression does not cover the unrestrained spreading of rumors or even untruths. On the contrary: as an employee, you even have a law against your employer Consideration and loyalty obligations to fulfill - if you do not do that, you risk termination without notice.

For example, anyone who makes derogatory comments about the employer in the presence of work colleagues gives cause for a warning or, as a final consequence, a warning behavior-related termination. An employer can take this measure if he sees the peace of the company being disturbed by the behavior of an employee.

It's not just about gossiping about the employer - colleagues or superiors have the same right to one respectful interaction.

Whose statements are already regarded as defamation or even slander, can with a Fine or imprisonment of up to two years calculate. In serious cases, when a person is publicly slandered, even five years imprisonment is possible. This can happen when the rumor-spreader claims and spreads untrue facts.

Defamation is clear in contrast to rumor more aggressive and defiantso that there are negative consequences for those affected. In contrast to this, defamation involves knowingly disseminating untruths.

Who as an employee contemptuous or defamatory allegations should see a lawyer and request an injunction.

Rumors About Me: How You Should React

Even if there has always been gossip - unlike in the past, modern communication media help to increase density on the one hand and to stop things on the other. The internet doesn't forget anything. Cyberbullying and sexting can be possible consequences, especially among young people.

Anyone who is in public knows this: Either a single unfortunate sentence is removed from a lecture and blown up to scandal, hidden something in a cloudy statement or interpreted silence.

Of course, the whole thing also works on a small scale - in the canteen, in the coffee kitchen or in the open-plan office. Before doing anything, however deny, deny or even fight back, first check from which corner the rumor comes and what it relates to:

  • The rumor is true.

    If the accusation is justified, it does not matter who made the disclosure. Denial would be absolutely wrong. You screwed up and got blown - stand by it. Apologize - publicly if you have to - but remain factual and confident. Which is also good: a short (!) Explanation of how the lapse could happen and how you intend to prevent it in the future. Point.

  • The rumor is not true.

    If the rumor is completely pulled by the hair, there is only one correct reaction: reject the allegations immediately and give reasons. Both are important: If you hesitate too long, it looks like there might be something to it. If you do not provide evidence to the contrary, the replica will fizzle out. But here, too, the following applies: As few emotions as possible. There was nothing to it.

  • The sender is nobody.

    The sender of gossip cannot always be clearly identified. But there are circumstantial evidence: what could be the purpose of the rumor? Who will benefit most from it? It doesn't have to be a direct competitor.

    Some people also try to distinguish themselves by attacking a particularly prominent target. The attentiveness associated with this benefits him above all - without making a worthwhile goal himself. In this case, the Teflon strategy is the best:

    Ignore the yapper. Does it bother the moon that the wolf howls at it? Just. Give him the cold shoulder while you discreetly ask a few friends to take a stand for you and highlight your qualities and references. Often such guys give up quickly if they can't find a willing victim.

  • The sender is a rival.

    On the other hand, if it's a false accusation from a rival trying to compromise you, there are two alternatives: First, the guy is known to be a mean calf bite. You can also safely forget about such types. Even if some then intensify the attack, they only saw on their own chair and come out as envious and micker. The more confident you remain now, the more sublime and taller you appear. Actually, you should almost thank him for it.

    Second, if the rumor-spreader is a prestige heavyweight and has a good reputation in the company, you definitely need to counter. First in private: tell him that you neither approve nor tolerate his behavior and that you will take legal action if in doubt. If he still doesn't give up, you have to go public. This doesn't mean the press right away, a larger meeting is enough to get you started. Reveal his unprofessional approach, provide evidence to the contrary, but always remain relaxed and amused. Show him that you enjoy this much attention. It's just a shame that he is completely wrong with his assumptions.

    Most detractors then give up. But it doesn't hurt if you document the entire course of his actions and collect witnesses - just in case he doesn't give up after all. Defamation is a criminal offense and can result in a fine or even a prison sentence of up to two years.

And if none of this works, still stay two alternatives: going to the boss (if he is not behind it) or the termination. In the case of the former, it is important that you let your manager on his Duty of care to draw attention.

But stay matter-of-fact. Those who complain and make themselves small damage their reputation. And even if you like the Hero emergency exit Resignation seems like a defeat: a company with a culture of intrigue doesn't deserve it!

Example of how rumors work

Office gossip can be massively good Damage a person's reputation, but also have a positive influence. The mechanism is the same: As the flood of information increases, so does the latent feeling of not having noticed everything after all or of being exposed to the wrong information. A confidential notice on the other hand, delivered by a credible acquaintance or even friend - that is convincing.

That makes us enormously susceptible to Manipulations. For example, the advertising industry today makes use of talk - also known as "buzz" - with the help of what is known as Viral Marketing advantage. Consumers are subtly tricked into promoting a product, for example by e-mail or web video, to friends without even realizing that they are already part of the campaign.

Accordingly, the digital Word of mouth Long outstripped all analog rumor mills: Social networks, forums, chat apps, blogs - they all aggregate and collectivize virtual hearsay into (often only) so-called Swarm intelligence, the wisdom of the crowd.

Especially negative rumors quickly find many followers. A small misstep by a company, such as the unjust treatment of a single customer, can trigger a wave of indignation on the Internet - the much-vaunted Shitstorm.

The American buzz expert and book author Jerry R. Wilson once examined across industries how good and bad customer experiences spread.

Result: positive experiences are passed on up to three times, but bad experiences up to 33 times. So if you annoy someone, there's a good chance they'll keep gossiping eleven times more often than the person you were nice to.

However, this can also be used. In one Nordstrom Department Store in Seattle, USA, once an angry woman brought back a set of tires and asked for her money to be refunded. She was really very angry about these tires, which in her eyes were inferior. The department store did not hesitate and paid the woman the full purchase price. Completely normal, you think.

But: Nordstrom doesn't sell any tires at all! The customer had simply made a mistake at the dealer in her anger. In order to avert negative propaganda, however, the department store management opted for a negative business and a satisfied customer.

With success: word of the action got around, and later even the Wall Street Journal reported about it. And Nordstrom earned a lot of points of sympathy and trust.

5 theses what makes gossip so successful

  1. The simpler and more specific a rumor, the more lasting it appears. The fatal thing about it: people believe them even when they are demonstrably wrong. This is the result of research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology led by evolutionary biologist Ralf Sommerfeld.

    It let over 100 test persons gamble for money, whereby the participants had the chance to give gifts to their fellow players. If someone was generous, the recipient was also rewarded with a gift of money. In the case of a tight fist, however, he received nothing. In this way, round after round, a reputation built up for every player - with the result that the stingy were increasingly shunned.

    Now the scientists spread false rumors about some of their fellow players. And indeed: although the test subjects had different experiences with those affected, they believed the talk more. Anyone who was now decried as a curmudgeon found hardly any players - and vice versa.
  2. Rumors always reflect the zeitgeist. In order for rumors to persist, they have to convey a surprising message - but one that also fits into our existing worldview. If the news is too wacky, the rumor is at best a flash in the pan.
  3. Successful rumors tickle our emotions. They annoy us, frighten us, or appeal to our hopes.
  4. For a rumor to spread quickly, people who are easy to influence are more important than opinion leaders. Because they check rumors less. And if a rumor is repeated often enough ... see thesis 1.
  5. The longer a rumor lasts, the harder it becomes to refute it. And the more people sit on this message and spread it, the truer it becomes in everyone's eyes. In fact, at some point our brains stop distinguishing quality from sources. Or to put it another way:

    It makes no difference whether we hear information from different and verifiable people or repeatedly from the same mouth. That is the result of a study by Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. It's the principle of urban legends: people just have to hear the bullshit enough times to believe it's true.

How to use the radio for yourself

If you have a say and in the Rumor mill If you want to swing the wooden spoon, you should never forget: gossip must always be casual. Nothing is more repulsive than a parasitic colleague for whom one is merely an information expert. Anyone who only taps into other people in order to then appear as a well-informed viewer is quickly considered to be Wind machine and loudspeaker.

So if you have already sparked, please do the following regulate heed:

  • Check sources

    Learn to distinguish reliable sources from harmful ones. Who is just chattering irrelevant stuff? Who is actually well wired and informed at an early stage? The former should be avoided, the latter should be provided with good information of their own. Because such giving only makes it possible to take later.

  • Recognize multipliers

    Identify the busiest whispering bags in the company and arrange them in a sequence, sorted by topic, truthfulness or throughput speed. The advantage of this channel search: If you have to spread information yourself, you know exactly which channels are the most effective for it.

  • Filter messages

    Filter good news from bad news and only pass on the positive news if possible - also because that has a better effect on your reputation. Before you even pass on any information, please verify it! Otherwise you could soon be seen as a bad source and false reporter yourself.

  • To be able to be silent

    Talking is only silver - especially when speculating about your new job. If you have just been promoted, some will shortly afterwards break their mouths about the background or your chances of success. This is not something to comment on. It is better to smile confidently and let the actions speak for themselves.

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