Thursday, 5 Aug, 2021

Gossip and the Destruction of Careers

Gossip has been a staple of human society since we learned to speak, and it's no surprise that the advent of social media only helped its proliferatio


Gossip has been a staple of human society since we learned to speak, and it's no surprise that the advent of social media only helped its proliferation. And while there is plenty about gossiping in general which can be discussed ad infinitum (is anyone really immune? what are some strategies for avoiding getting embroiled in another person's drama?), I want to focus on how this phenomenon impacts careers: specifically, professional athletes'. In order to even make it into the pros nowadays, you need an impressive total package; from your body measurements or weight class up through game stats as well as character qualities like work ethic and loyalty. But with so many competitors vying for limited spots - not just at their respective positions but also places on teams' rosters


Does your career have a worm embedded in it? Is there something secretly destroying everything as you perform tasks with high expectations set on them - never knowing anything about this hidden agenda because nothing could feel more rewarding than reading tabloid magazines when standing in line waiting to check out groceries. But maybe all of those innocent moments really were harmful after all; little pieces of "gossip" here.


Hollywood is a difficult industry to work in, but it also seems that gossip has its benefits. The more negative rumours are spread about an individual by those pages of the tabloids and magazines, the higher their next salary will be for another project they take on after this one. But you can rest assured because even though there may have been some talk going around about your past mistakes or whatnots, gossip won't do anything good for you--it might actually make things worse due to how Hollywood works.


I've seen it all, wherever people gather under one roof for a common purpose. The common purpose is the employer's. Everyone else is there to provide for their families and themselves. But so very often, these factors fade in importance to issues that are the shame of human nature, the destruction of the other. I've seen individuals attempt to create hardship for others and their families because the person reminded them of a past spouse.


Though it offers little solace, if you find yourself the target of a sustained, vicious gossip campaign, you probably possess positive qualities your attackers lack. Jealousy is at the root of much of this. Those viewed as inferior are generally dismissed by the gossip channel as stupid or silly, and rarely generate malice. We all know the value of education, but there are those who will orchestrate your downfall because you've attained something they envy. It's much easier to sabotage someone with an education superior to yours than it is to attend classes, write papers and take tests.

Of course, this possibility strikes many as an unlikely outcome. After all, the more educated you are, the higher you'll rise in the organization, thus finding protection in your academic efforts.


But companies seldom adhere to the organizational charts that seem so comforting. There is an informal network of influence that can bring you to your knees through the effects of a thousand cuts. Long term employees, some malicious, some bored and in search of excitement, excitement that will not harm them in the eyes of their employer, have created deep cover channels of gossip. These are capable of ruining a person's effectiveness on the job without him or her ever gaining an inkling of what has transpired. Those engaged in these channels know their effectiveness is dependent on the subject of their ire remaining ignorant. This prevents any action being taken that can either prove the allegations false or worse yet, the victim going to a higher authority, possibly exposing the members of the channel. I know of a case where a director, who was initially viewed as a star, in the course of a few weeks couldn't elicit a hello from the janitorial staff. It was only after he was a marked man that someone, after a few drinks, took pity on him. Because his life didn't provide the information necessary to do the job, lies were freely circulated by a number of enemies he didn't know existed. He was informed that it was common knowledge he met a female employee a few blocks from work each evening to take her to a motel. He was supposed to be having sexual relations with another female employee in his office.


Gossip is the great equalizer in the workplace. Character assassination can dissolve your degrees and accomplishments in the eyes of others, making you far less than those who didn't bother with an education. I'm always amused when I read an article by an expert in the field of employment who tells you to carefully assess your faults if you're experiencing difficulty in an organization. The logic underlying such advice is clear. Companies are pristine environments and if you aren't fitting in, obviously you have a problem that needs to be addressed. I too am familiar with the types of organizations they're describing. They exist in the grad school textbooks. I've never encountered such an organization outside of those pages. And remember, it's usually the victim that questions him or herself incessantly. Advising them to continue to do so can have negative consequences. The victimizers seldom engage in such soul searching. Their acts, always self-serving, are couched in concern for the good of the organization.


Why would an employer allow behaviour so contrary to group cohesion to persist. Believe it or not, it does help create cohesion, at least among those participating in the channel. There are other employers who find the supposed knowledge about someone they see every day alluring. Since others are not aware of the actual gossip, they develop a negative view of the target through complaints about work related matters. Frequently, the group will take a hypercritical view of the person's work output, going over it with a fine tooth comb. These are the reports that find their way to the employer. This is the reason the person has entered a period of insecurity. He or she has been devoured, carcass thrown to the pavement. Satisfaction permeates the organization for a while, momentary satiation. But they wait in deep cover, on the lookout for a member of the herd separated from the pack, far from the leaders. But patience must be exercised. Complaining too frequently gets you labeled a complainer. The channel and its offshoots lose effectiveness with overuse