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Gossip for Good

We all have that 'thinking time' don't we? Commuting? Showering? Exercising? Staring blankly at the evening news? Watching that alarm clock tick over from 2:47AM to 2:48AM? Just some time when we find our brains drifting and catching ideas here and there. Sometimes they are pure ephemera; gone as quickly as they came. Other times they become rabbit holes that lead you, much like an Eddie Izzard sketch, from a starting point thru a myriad of other random, perhaps unconsciously tangential thoughts, until you come back, mysteriously, to that original line of thought.

As I started my commute today, I happened to see some Boston city police on my quiet, suburban street, some 30+ miles from downtown Boston. Witness protection? Big city bust in the 'burbs? It got me thinking about small town gossip, and how thru text (while stopped and using my phone in a lawful manner of course!), it would be easy to start the circle of speculation and rumor mongering. And that got me thinking of how when we hear 'gossip', we only think of other's misfortunes, philandering, ruinous decisions, tragedy. We never think of 'gossip' as positive.

And then that got me thinking about work. Specifically my new job, which I am still absolutely loving by the way. Here at Workhuman, our mission is to allow individuals to recognize one another regularly, as one customer of ours calls it, 'within the flow' of daily tasks. Thanking others when the moment occurs, for a job well done, or a hand offered unprompted. And how we look to expand the opportunities for individuals, managers, peers, customers, clients, contractors, to exchange these moments of recognition, when and where they happen.

And so then I was thinking just why we never 'gossip' about these good things, these moments of recognition?

'Oh did you hear? Sam & her team got recognized by her client yesterday for the delivery that they made!!' I KNOW RIGHT??'

'Oh that one over there? Yeah, only went and apparently made sure all the systems were rebooted & ready this morning after the outage last night!!!!. Wonderful isn't it?'

And then I got to work and read this article about 'being yourself' at work to be more successful. That got me wondering how teams and managers would react to everyone "just being themselves", especially if those people are 'introverts' or maybe the complete other end of the spectrum. Introverts are themselves when allowed to quietly get on with work and not be dragged into debating or large displays of open engagement. Extroverts can spend copious amounts of time looking for the opportunities to expound and present.

And that then knit together with this thinking about how recognition and gossip and authenticity, actually working alongside & accepting others, should knit together. Recognize one another for what you see and what others contribute as themselves. Introverts, extroverts unite! Celebrate the superpowers that your colleagues bring to work as themselves. Gossip about their successes however large or however hidden from view. Marvel with friends at the coffee machine, at what you heard about other's achievements. Lift each other up behind their backs, while they are not looking, without them even knowing. And to their faces too. Covertly celebrate. Whisper about the awesome stuff.

So then the light turned green, my commute continued, my thoughts drifted again (weekend, cricket, trivia, politics, work, home). It turns out that the police detail was in my neighborhood to escort the family of a Boston policeman who had recently died, to his funeral. A most terrible time for any family. A man of honor & duty was being paid the greatest respect by his colleagues. A man with a family, who loved and treasured him and now who miss him greatly. These are the things we need to gossip about. The heroic & the more mundane achievements that we as humans, as parents, kids, grandparents, colleagues, team mates, passers-by, do day in and day out.

Gossip ... let's make it for good.


John Trigg, Director of Product Management