The Real Reason Behind Conflict at Work

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
– Variations attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt & Socrates

Discussing people…otherwise known as “gossip.” Yuck! The word itself sounds so trite, yet if we are honest, how many of us would say we have engaged in this ugly little activity that causes so much heartache and strife among teams?

Gossip doesn’t have to be intentionally malicious to cause harm. Gossip is simply talking about people, often in an unfavorable way.


  • Doesn’t resolve the real problem
  • Hurts the people we’re talking about (and they usually find out)
  • Creates distractions and distrust
  • Spreads untruths
  • Makes others wonder if we talk about them too

Leaders don’t waste time engaging in gossip. They rise above it. So how can we take today’s quote to heart?

Instead of talking about your teammates…

  • Consider how you want to be treated
  • Speak directly to the teammate about the issue/challenge
  • Focus on a solution instead of the person
  • Approach the situation as an opportunity to build trust

If your team has a culture that fosters gossip, be the first to turn the tide. When gossip comes up, speak up or walk away. Have an honest conversation with your teammates about what gossip is doing to your team, and how you can work together to end it. The more time your team focuses on ideas – instead of one another – the more productive and satisfied everyone will be.

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