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.


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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Pheel the Love – Book Review


pheelPheel the Love –  How the Most Powerful Force in the Universe Builds Great Companies – Phillie Phanatic Style!

Baseball fans might know that the Phillie Phanatic has been around since the late seventies.  The mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies was created with the help of people that worked on the Muppets. The Phanatic has a reputation of being a prankster in the most fun and loving way.

Authors Tom Burgoyne and Evan Marcus believe that the power of love is the force behind the Phillie Phanatic’s antics. Burgoyne, the man behind the green suit since 1983, and Marcus, a leadership teacher, believe that love, this force for good, is worth exploring for applications in the workplace.

The authors write …

For the Phillies, the Phanatic is the ‘pocket of love’ the part of the organization that consistently exudes fun and goodwill, no matter what happens on the field.

The book starts with a case for love, continues on to explain the concept of the DNA of Love™, (Decide Love, Notice Love, Act Love) and explores seven principles that can be applied in business.  The case for love is presented in context of a unique selling proposition. Business professionals look for something that makes a product or service unique because they know that product and price can and will be matched by competitors. To be unique, there needs to be loyalty and a connection with people inside and outside an organization. This connection is something that is “hard to steal.”

The seven principles are presented with fun names such as “The Big Smooch”, “Duct Tape and Hot Dogs” or “Give’m The Belly Whomp.” Behind each principle, readers will find actions that any serious leader can take to improve loyalty in their organization.  One example comes from Principle #3 Duct Tape & Hot Dogs: Be Committed to Operational Excellence. Author Tom explains that The Phantic’s Hot Dog Launcher, one of the Phanatic’s ballpark antics that sends free hot dogs to lucky fans, is an example of operational excellence. On the surface the antic looks like pure fun but there have been refinements over time to the process to make sure fans are safe and the hot dogs arrive still warm.

Tom writes:

There is a lot that has to take place for a lucky fan to catch a free hot dog at a Phillies game. When the conditions are for right for a night of hot dog launching, I phone Chris Long, our long-time entertainment director. She logs it into on to our in-game entertainment schedule, which sets off a series of events. Entertainment coordinator, Teresa Leyden, notifies our promotions team who order the hot dogs from our ballpark concessionaire, Aramark. Members of our promotions team pick up the hot dogs and take them to the ground crew area on the service level to be prepared for flight.

Tom goes on to explain that each hot dog is wrapped in aluminum foil. Next the wrapped hot dog is rolled into paper, and taped with duct tape. Prior to improving the process there were mistakes that led to exploding dogs and a big mess.

Tom wraps up the chapter with this concept:

The moral of the story is to strive for operational excellence but know, that at one point or another you might bomb.

As a reader, the lesson is to have an intention of good service, but to look at how that intention is playing out and work as a team to make improvements. The seven principles combined with the DNA of Love and wrapped up a list of questions that guide the reader into creating a “blueprint for love” in their organizations.

Read this book, and consider how the concept of love fits in the workplace.

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Krista Tippett is the voice of a social enterprise with a radio show called On Being at the center of its work.  Ms. Tippett was speaking at Drake University at the 37th Bucksbaum lecture this week in Des Moines. Her gentle voice brought calmness during a time of doubt to public radio listeners, students, and faculty at Drake University.

Delivering a message of hope for the future, Ms. Tippett invited listeners to move beyond the concept of tolerance and consider the concept of hospitality.

In the workplace and other public spaces, there is an apparent division based on how people responded to the election in the United States on November 8, 2016.  Could a response to this division actually be hospitality?

In this context, hospitality it is the old fashioned notion of inviting people into our spaces and allowing them to feel safe. That means allowing people to trust us to listen rather than simply defending our positions.

Hospitality is one of the twenty five rules of civility mentioned in P.M. Forni’s book , Choosing Civility. He invites us to care for our guests.  Forni says: “Make sure your guests know that you are delighted to spend time with them.”


Given this insight, what does hospitality mean in context of the workplace? We want to hear your thoughts.


Graphic of CultivateThe Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we gather tips for leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.