THE WALLACE CENTERS OF IOWA: sustainable food & civility initiatives

Gossip and Civility

Speaker Shelby Scarbourgh gave a TEDx talk in 2016 about civility.  She mentions George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Rule number #50 states: Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

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Ms. Scarbourgh goes on to say: “Spreading gossip was not civil then and it is not civil now.”

The purpose of this blog is to use rules for civility as insight into our own behavior. Using civility rules as a hammer for others people’s behavior never works. With this rule, we individually have an opportunity to look at gossip.

How does it make us feel when we hear gossip?

How does it make us feel when we share gossip?

If we are honest with ourselves, we feel good at first to hear gossip, or feel powerful when we share information that others do not know. However with a little reflection, we tend to feel empty.

Getting skilled at recognizing gossip and learning to negotiate it is a worthy self-development activity.  According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, gossip can be addressed by first owning up to it, then creating and holding boundaries, and finally recognizing collusion attempts from people who want to share private information about a person not present.

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