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Chapter 8. Parrying the Difficult Thrust... > Dealing With Minor Back-Channel Prob... - Pg. 80

Parrying the Difficult Thrusts "Have you discussed this with Tom yet?" 80 If the person hasn't tried to work out the problem directly, then you indicate you won't be involved until that conversation takes place. That models the correct behavior and sends the message that "at our company, we don't talk about people behind their backs. We try to work it out one-to-one first ." Second, if someone tries to communicate gossip to you (either publicly or privately), here's what you say: "Freddy, I don't think it's constructive to talk about things or speculate about people this way. I really don't want to hear gossip about people." Mobilizing Group Pressure While many people enjoy occasional gossip and back-channel talk (provided they aren't the subject), most will also recognize that it isn't constructive. But you probably have to mobilize that way of thinking, so people actually contemplate how destructive these kinds of remarks can be. How do you do it? Here's an example. Use a staff meeting and allocate about 30 minutes, maximum, to discuss gossip and back-channel communication. Introduce the topic by mentioning that gossip and indirect communication can be harmful. Point out that while many of us like to gossip about others, we often wonder about what people say about us when we aren't there. From the Manager's Desk