Gossiping At Work Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About

According to evolutionary biologist, anthropologist and Binghamton professor David Sloan Wilson, human beings are voracious consumers of information. Wilson tells The New York Times: "That's why we call gossip 'juicy.' It's like tasty food and we hunger for it. And because humans are cooperative animals, when I get a piece of information you need, I just have to give it to you." Well, duh! But who knew the Times was pro-gossip? Especially in the workplace? Wilson says that office gossip can be surprisingly accurate and even help you get ahead in your company. Sure, sometimes it can be negative and hurtful — but most of the time it's harmless, interesting, fun and essential. It might get painted as a pastime just for shrew-ish women and harpies, but everyone does it. Gossip Girl isn't just about the chicks! But is there an underlying sexism in hearsay?

When a woman passes information along it's called gossip; a man does the same and it's a "tip" or "insider trading." Somehow when women pass along news — whether it be about themselves, their friends or celebrities — it gets minimized and denigrated. But research psychologist Michael Morris notes that gossip is really strategic information sharing, counseling or mentoring. (Somehow Strategic Information Girl doesn't have the same ring.) But verbal communication is what separates us from the wildebeests — why should we be ashamed of it?

Gossip Is Information By Another Name [New York Times]

Earlier: Could You Give Up Gossip?
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