Therapeutic Gossip

  1. Gossip is defined as "idle talk or rumor , especially about the personal or private affairs of others".

    There was a thread on this forum some time ago that generally put gossip down as negative thing. The majority of the posters said they did not participate in it, ignored it, and were not a party to it.

    Not condoning negativity is a good thing. Our workplaces are stressful enough without adding any unwanted spice to the mix.

    HOWEVER, gossip can be a good thing. Gossip can relay general feelings or the atmosphere or give us a idea of team members' feelings toward one another. Gossip can give us a heads up on areas of concern.

    Case in point: Several years ago, I worked a shift with a per diem nurse. This nurse told me about another nurse who was taking Soma out of the pyxis for her own use. Now, at the time, there was nothing really wrong with is this action. Soma was not in the controlled substance drawer and staff was allowed to take meds out of the pyxis for their own use.

    Both the per diem nurse and I were well aware that Soma has a potential for abuse; a high can be had. I asked the per diem nurse the Soma-using nurse's name. The per diem nurse replied that they did not want to gossip. I said that I wanted to know the Soma-using nurse's name so I could be aware of any areas of concern when working with this staff member, so, in actuality, it wasn't gossiping.

    I learned the Soma-using nurses name, from past experience found them to be a good person to work with, and went on about my business.

    Many things have changed since this situation took place: Neither nurse works at the facility anymore, Soma is now kept in the controlled substance drawer, and staff can no longer take meds out of the pyxis for their own use.

    So, in a way, this discussion perceived by one to be gossip had a rather realistic and therapeutic outcome.
  2. Visit Davey Do profile page

    About Davey Do, ADN, ASN, CNA, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I Guide

    Joined: Jun '10; Posts: 9,572; Likes: 38,037

    20 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    Gossip is not a four letter word.

    I am a very quiet, keep to myself, non self disclosing, person. My guilty secret is I love to hear gossip. I learn to look at people, situations, differently.

    Sometimes it is a real eye opener....."I always thought she was odd....now I know for sure it wasn't just me". I may change my opinion about people from "gossip" but I have enough common sense to know and ignore stupid, mean spirited, gossip when it goes 100% against what I know about that person.
  4. by   caliotter3
    If it weren't for gossip I would never find out about many changes in policy or such, important workplace information.
  5. by   Davey Do
    Quote from brownbook
    Sometimes it is a real eye opener....."I always thought she was odd....now I know for sure it wasn't just me".
    A consensual perspective is a comforting thing, isn't it, brownbook?

    The fact that you do some self-evaluation, "it wasn't just me", shows you are ready to take responsibility for your beliefs or perspective on things. Some are ready to blame others or play the victim in their relationships, relinquishing any control they have over their lot in life.

    To use others as our barometers, we can adjust our perspectives and have a change of conscious on a situation or individual and react accordingly.
  6. by   Davey Do
    Quote from caliotter3
    If it weren't for gossip I would never find out about many changes in policy or such, important workplace information.
    I say "Amen!" to that caliotter!

    Hearsay is a accepted form of communication at the facility where I am employed. An administrator will tell a coworker of a change in policy and it seems we are expected to comply immediately when that info is passed on.

    When this occurs, I often ask, "Is it documented?" And if the change of policy is not documented, my stance is that it didn't happen. Not accepting a documented change in P&P allows me to go along my merry way or forces administrative's hand to do their job.

    I could go on and on, but that's enough for now.

    Thanks for your input, brownbook/caliotter!
  7. by   Sour Lemon
    I love to gossip, but only if I make the subject of the gossip look good. I keep "bad" things to myself.
  8. by   Davey Do
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I love to gossip, but only if I make the subject of the gossip look good.
    You're a better man than I am.

    The administrator of the home health agency where I was a nursing supervisor, who was also a woman, use to say that to me a lot.
  9. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    I am guessing "taking meds out the pyxis for your own use" refers to Tylenol or Motrin, and not something that requires a prescription!

    Gossip is harmful in my opinion, as the wrong person can overhear your conversation and tell the person you are gossiping about, which then leads to poor morale on the unit and tension.

    If you have issues with someone talk to them about it, not other people!!

    Annie
  10. by   kbrn2002
    Quote from Davey Do
    I say "Amen!" to that caliotter!

    Hearsay is a accepted form of communication at the facility where I am employed. An administrator will tell a coworker of a change in policy and it seems we are expected to comply immediately when that info is passed on.

    When this occurs, I often ask, "Is it documented?" And if the change of policy is not documented, my stance is that it didn't happen. Not accepting a documented change in P&P allows me to go along my merry way or forces administrative's hand to do their job.

    I could go on and on, but that's enough for now.

    Thanks for your input, brownbook/caliotter!
    I work in a place where policies seem to be changed on a whim and passed on through word of mouth, otherwise known as "gossip." Another favorite is the policy change that's posted as a memo that stays on the bulletin board for a day or two then disappears. Polices often contradict each other, love that one! Work with one manager do it like this, work with a different manager and no, the policy is this.

    Needless to say since nobody really seems to know what the actual policies are, including management, everybody tends to just do their own thing and no actual policies that may or may not exist are followed anyway.
  11. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    I think there is a difference between word of mouth communication at the workplace regarding policy issues and talking about other people behind their backs. 99% of all gossip I've heard over the years falls into the categories of "its none of your damn business so shut up" and made up BS for entertainment purposes. I think if you have something to say about somebody else you should have the courage to address to address that person directly
  12. by   TriciaJ
    I've been very fortunate to work in a place where mean-spirited gossip is not part of the culture. The "gossip" that is engaged in is word-of-mouth information of someone's difficulties such as family illness. This is the main way for coworkers to support one another. Confidences tend to be kept, so information generally does not circulate without the consent of the subject. I wish all workplaces could be like this.
  13. by   evastone
    I became a topic of gossip when rumors went flying that I was planning on leaving my job for a different unit. It was a true rumor; I told just one coworker because I needed her help and she told my unit. Everyone was well meaning and no one was unpleasant but it was not something that I had wanted people to know yet. I was not happy about it.

    On the flip side, there is this rumor going around that management on our unit has been fighting for our jobs. Apparently, some people were supposed to be fired at the end of this year. While I know that I am always dispensable it is nice to feel like my higher ups don't want to let us go. I almost don't want to find out if it's not true.
  14. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from AnnieOaklyRN
    I am guessing "taking meds out the pyxis for your own use" refers to Tylenol or Motrin, and not something that requires a prescription!

    Gossip is harmful in my opinion, as the wrong person can overhear your conversation and tell the person you are gossiping about, which then leads to poor morale on the unit and tension.

    If you have issues with someone talk to them about it, not other people!!

    Annie
    I didn't think the OP referred to having issues with someone and talking to everyone ELSE about it rather than that person.

    I tend to agree that gossip can be a good thing -- a team-building thing, even. BUT you have to be conscious of what you're saying or silently "going along with." I love to gossip -- but it tends to be about things such as "Did you know that Clara's biscuits took first prize at the fair this year?" and "Brumhilde's husband just got a big promotion at work, so she's going to cut her hours" rather than "I heard it was Brumhilde's husband who got arrested for brawling at the strip club last night" or "Clara is dating Jim in radiology -- only he's still married."

    You have to gossip about things you'd be glad to have your colleague overhear. No one that I know of ever objected to being "gossiped" about for their proficiency in IV sticks, gardening awards or the pulchritude of their children.

close