South-Western - Management  
Have You Heard? Gossip Turns Out to Serve a Purpose
Topic Communication
Key Words gossip, group dynamic
InfoTrac Reference A135153716
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News Story

For some people, gossip has always been irresistible, and now some researchers contend it may be helpful in the study of group interaction. In an office environment, gossip helps to clarify rules and provides "unwritten" information that usually isn't found in an office manual. Gossip can control behavior in a group, as well as define the group membership.

People devote a fifth to two-thirds of their daily conversation to gossip, and men engage just as much as women. In certain cases, people can be obligated to repeat information in order to win acceptance in a group, particularly if the information is important and not getting out within other means.

Additionally, gossip can relieve social and professional anxiety for a new member of a group, especially when he or she discovers other people are going through similar feelings and experiences. Gossip may also alleviate low-grade depression when it allows someone to feel accepted and part of a group.

Questions
1.

The article focused on the benefits of gossip, but how can gossip be detrimental to a company and its employees?

2.

Research the "gossip chain" in your text or on the Internet. List at least three ways a manager can communicate office information not found in manuals in order to prevent gossip in the first place.

Source "Have You Heard? Gossip Turns Out to Serve a Purpose," NYTimes.com Aug. 16, 2005.
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