How to Rid Your Office of Backbiting for Good

Almost every person who works in an office environment anywhere in the world experiences backbiting.

Backbite, verb.

To say mean or spiteful things about a person who is not present.

And let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has participated in backbiting whether as a listener or the actual person talking. And even more honest, you know you’ve probably been the subject of it, too.

So how do you combat this behaviour in your company?

In his TED talk in Oslo, Norway, Glenn Rolfsen offers both a triple filter for your personal use as well as an approach for the whole office.

Apply the Triple Filter Before You Backbite

It’s a typical Monday in the office, and you’re catching up with your mates after the weekend.

Adam mentions he has some juicy gossip about one of your co-workers that happened after you left the happy hour on Friday.

Instead of drinking more of your coffee and listening to the story, you ask Adam the following three questions:

Is it true?         

Even if he was there and witnessed whatever he’s about to tell you, you still need to pass the other filters. Of course, it’s much worse if he replies that he heard it from another person.

Is it good?

Most of the time when you hear the words “juicy gossip,” it’s not going to shine the best light on the person. So unless it’s something great like the person got engaged, is having a baby or something else wonderful, then it doesn’t pass the filter.

Is it useful?

Do you really need to know this about the person? Is it really that important that you know that a person hooked up with another co-worker at the end of a happy hour? No. It doesn’t change your job or your life.

So once Adam says no to almost all of the filters, then you can go back to siping your coffee and let him know you don’t need to hear the latest gossip.

Note: Rolfsen adds that we should apply this filter outside the office as well—when we’re with our friends, around the dinner table with family or in front of the kids.

He says by backbiting in front of our kids or even our friends it shows that you condone that behaviour and, in fact, encourage it.

So, yes, that means you’ll have to stop saying bad things about your mother-in-law in front of the kids.

Backbiting in the office? Get rid of it now.

Gossip 2018

Rolfsen suggests another approach for tackling backbiting with the whole team.

He says to follow these steps:

  • Gather the team together.
  • Ask by a show of hands, who here believes that backbiting takes place? (Make sure you define exactly what it is.)
  • Follow this up with the question, “Would you like to work in an office where there is no backbiting?”
  • Then say that we’re going to embark on a six-month project.
  • Take a flip chart and write Gossip 2018.
  • Then ask everyone to sign a commitment to no backbiting for the next six months.
  • Hang the paper up, perhaps in a frame, in a prominent place where everyone will pass it.
  • Check in regularly with team; perhaps at team status meetings, and ask how they are doing with the backbiting challenge.

Yep, it’s as simple as that.

And it works.

Get Help (and Save by Booking This Month!)

BespokeHR offers assessments that can help you gain understanding of the various personalities you have in your office, which will help you better manage.

This month only, we’re offering 20% off DISC Assessments when booked. We’ll take the DISC model and help you apply it to your team.

Get in touch for more information.