3rd EAWOP WorkLab Kathryn Waddington

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    • 00:04

      SPEAKER 1: Into Kathryn, one of our speakers.Kathryn, would you like to introduce yourself?

    • 00:08

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: I'd love to.My name's Kathryn Waddington, and I'm here from Londonwhere I'm the head of psychology at the universityof Westminster.

    • 00:17

      SPEAKER 1: Kathryn, what role does gossipplay in an organization?

    • 00:24

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: I think it plays many roles.People have described it as the social gluethat keeps people together.It is a very important form of communication,and I think it also helps people relate to each other.It builds friendships, and also itcan sometimes provide a little bit of light relief and humor.

    • 00:49

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: Particularly when we're working in busy times,and stressful times.

    • 00:54

      SPEAKER 1: We tend to think of gossipas quite a negative thing.Can gossip ever be positive for an organization?

    • 01:01

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: I think it can.Going back to what I said previously,it builds relationships.It helps teams work more effectively together.In particularly if people trust each other, so I thinkit's good for working relationships.It's also sometimes quite an important indicatorof what is really going on in the organization.

    • 01:24

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: You often have the, kind of, formal reality, but oftenbeneath the surface things are quite different.

    • 01:33

      SPEAKER 1: So other things that organizationscan do to benefit from the positive impact of gossip?

    • 01:42

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: I think so.I think it is important that we rememberthat there are-- there are many facets of gossip,and it can be positive.And of course it can be negative.It can be a form of bullying, and itcan be quite destructive.It can damage people-- people's identities and reputations.

    • 02:04

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: But it also can be positive.In my research people talked about the waythat they would use gossip as a wayof managing their emotions-- of letting off steam.Which, providing it doesn't happen all of the time,I think it can be quite beneficial.It kind of-- it provides an outletfor some of the frustrations that we experience at work.

    • 02:26

      SPEAKER 1: Many people might thinkthat gossip is a rather informal subject to be researching.How do you feel your research into gossip contributesto a our knowledge of organization?

    • 02:40

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: I think it just brings it into focus.The theme for this particular work labhas been voice and silence.And I think, for a long time, gossipas a form of communication has been silenced,and not necessarily heard.And therefore a lot of things that

    • 03:02

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: should have come to the surface just remain below the surface.I do sometimes wonder, and people have said this to me,that the term gossip can be quite--because it's kind of negative connotations-- peoplehave said to me things like, well, of course it's gossip,but we don't call it gossip.So I'll give you an example.

    • 03:25

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: Somebody had been working in a very large governmentorganization in the UK, and they said to me,of course the whole place runs on gossip,but nobody ever calls it that.They'll say, Helen is a very good people person.Got very good networking skills, a very good listener.But, in fact, what we're talking about

    • 03:46

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: is a way of, kind of, tuning into someof the evaluative talk that's going on in the organization.And again, it's what-- a reflection of what'sreally going on.

    • 03:56

      SPEAKER 1: That's very interesting.So, in the course of research, were thereany particular findings that really intriguedyou, or surprised you?

    • 04:07

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: Yes, I'vejust come from a workshop at the work lab this morningto do this very short talk.Where we're talking about gendered conversations.And it is a myth that women gossip and men talk.But again, men are more likely to use different words.So they might say things like, oh, we

    • 04:30

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: need to have a debriefing after that meeting.And what really interested me was when I interviewed menabout their experience of gossip,they would say things to me a bitlike women used to say in the kind of-- in the kind of '80sand '90s.Women used to say, I'm not a feminist,but-- and men would say to me, well of course I don't gossip,

    • 04:52

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: but I'll see if I can help you with your research.And often their interviews would last much, much longer,and it was almost like they were given-- it became legitimate,because I was doing my research in the academic disciplineof psychology at the University of London.That gave it legitimacy.

    • 05:13

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: And I think now that there were a number of usinternationally who are doing work around gossip,and we're getting things published.Like my book, Gossip In Organizations,sorry to give it a plug.Which is kind of legitimizing the topic of gossip.

    • 05:29

      SPEAKER 1: And other things that youdo differently in your role as a managerbecause of what you know from your research about gossip?

    • 05:36

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: Yes, I thinkit's important to acknowledge that positionin the organization does impact upon how much gossip reachesyour ears or eyes.So therefore it's important to have good listening skills,and ensure that you have an open manner so that people feel--if there are things that are being gossiped about-- let's

    • 05:58

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: say, for example, me-- as head of department,and a manager-- would need to know.Then they'll come and tell me, and I'm open to that.

    • 06:11

      SPEAKER 1: You mentioned your book about gossip.Are there any other resources that peoplecould look at if they're interested in takingthis topic a bit further?

    • 06:21

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON: Now that's a good question.There's a number of academic journals--that's where we're publishing around gossip--but interestingly this is a very practitioner-focused work lab,and the kind of practitioner and manager literature

    • 06:42

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: has tended to overlook and ignore gossip.So at the moment there isn't actually a huge amountthat's out there.I guess what's important is that peopleshould act as their own resource,and have an open mind.And I've used the term in my book-- reflexive gossip.Which is mindful attention to every day talk.

    • 07:03

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: The things that we hear around us.And one of the things that I thinkis important, because of the negative aspects of gossip--of its potential to harm-- is that peoplethink about the ethical dimensions of gossip,and think about what gossip either they,themselves, engage in, or that they hear, and then think well,

    • 07:24

      DR. KATHRYN WADDINGTON [continued]: what am I going to do with this information now?

3rd EAWOP WorkLab Kathryn Waddington

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Professor Kathryn Waddington speaks about gossip. Is all gossip negative or can the term also include positive word-of-mouth?

3rd EAWOP WorkLab Kathryn Waddington

Professor Kathryn Waddington speaks about gossip. Is all gossip negative or can the term also include positive word-of-mouth?

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