Gossiping Can Make You More Productive at the Office

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gossip in the officeThanks to The Jane Dough for cluing us into the latest in so-fascinating work studies! Check it out:

Just because Gossip Girl ended last night doesn’t mean you need to stop telling tales. In fact, gossiping in your office may make you better at your job. A new study by Dutch researchers finds that gossip helps keep offices running more smoothly and can actually improve people’s productivity.

Basically gossip works as a tool. The rumor mill can provide insight into workplace politics and power.  Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor Business Administration at Harvard Business Schoolsays managers should actually get involved with office politics and gossip.  Researchers have also pointed out that gossip forges connections, builds trust, provides a means of learning unwritten social norms and offers a way of comparing ourselves with others.

This study found that gossip isolates the slacker in the office. It’s used to warn co-workers about colleagues that are not pulling their weight. And even the risk of gossip can help to pressure underperformers to contribute, the study suggested. “Gossip is often seen as exclusively self-serving behavior aimed at manipulating others and influencing them in some malicious way” saidlead author Dr. Bianca Beersma of Amsterdam University, which carried out the research. “A single person cannot ward off a bear or catch a mammoth but a group can,” Beersma said. Whoa. Talk about survival of the fittest.

The study, which surveyed 220 students found that people were more likely to gossip about this difficult person to colleagues – who belong to the same group as the shirker and the person spreading the gossip – than to friends. Those who chose to gossip to colleagues about shirkers were also more likely to say protecting their group was their main motive.

So being the office gossip may actually make you the most loyal employee. This may make you look at mean girls in middle school in a different light. And luckily, women tend to be better at spreading gossip than men. A recent study found that 85% of women say once they get a juicy piece of gossip they have to spread it.  The survey of 3,000 women found on average it takes 32 minutes and 45 seconds before a friend or colleague’s trust is betrayed to at least one other person.

XO, XO.

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