Recognition, Positive Gossip, and Avoiding Jealousy

recognition and jealousy















As you may know, I offer free week emails with tips on meaningful recognition. This is an example:

Spreading Positive Gossip

Have you ever noticed how fast gossip can fly through your department? How, within hours, everyone on your team can know “the latest?”

Gossip is generally a bad thing. It undermines morale and destroys team focus. But what if you could generate as much enthusiasm for positive gossip? Maybe you can. Try using a storyteller’s approach to praise. Provide details, context, and characters. Be truthful and interesting. Who knows, you may create the next corporate legend!

Gossip is a powerful, often insidious, form of communication. However, when used properly it can offer a great way to spread a recognition message throughout your organization.


It seems there can be a downside to even positive gossip. This tip generated the following email from a reader:

Hi Cindy, I like this idea, but generally when positive gossip flys in our area, some jealousy ensues. Your thoughts?

Avoiding Jealousy

Here was my response:
Consider why jealousy typically happens.
1) There too little recognition. Limited commodities inspire greediness. Get better at private one to one praise and appreciation, upping the frequency, before you try positive gossip.
2) Jealousy from underperformers. To draw attention away from performance, underperformers will often try to reframe recognition as favoritism. Keep the positive gossip based on gossip-worthy events, describe the achievement accurately and completely, and then ignore the underperformers’ complaints. Everyone knows who these people are and don’t want you to cater to the underperformer’s expectations.
3) There is an expectation that everyone will be recognized identically. If this is the case you either have to get that gossip flowing about everyone (difficult) or do some work setting expectations (recognition is based on performance and preferences and will look differently for everyone).

Keep in mind that positive gossip is public recognition. Instead of assembling the team, you are telling one person at a time about what a team member did. Positive gossip requires the same skill as any public recognition. You need to provide specifics, and you need to tell the story in an interesting manner. If you need help with this, contact me for ideas on how you can learn this skill.

Tell us about the positive gossip in your workplace!

Copyright 2013 Cindy Ventrice


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