Here’s the Situation: A professional colleague and I were discussing an incident that occured in the association we both belong to. It was one of those incidents that ocur in every organization that involves volunteers. Leadership on the board had turned over with a new year, and the outgoing leadership had neglected to provide the recognition my colleague felt she deserved.
Here’s the Stupid Mistake: The colleague began several of her sentences with the words, “I don’t care about the recognition, but . . . ” Other sentences began with, “I wouldn’t say this to anybody but you . . . .” What’s worse is that these type of statements consistently pepper the conversations I have with this individual. As I result, I am quite sure she does care about the recognition and she does make these statements to me and to others.
When a person is indirect about feelings such as being hurt, it results in the person seeming petty. When a person claims she won’t say certain things to anybody but you, it results in the person seeming like a true gossip. These statements erode trust and make the listener cautious about interactions with the person making the statements. We tiptoe around people who have a high need for recognition. We withhold confidences from people we perceive as gossips. We certainly lose respect for these folks.
Here’s the Solution: If you are slighted by someone’s failure to recognize you in a professional context, deal with it directly, with the person who committed the error. If you don’t feel it’s worth it to confront the person directly, then shut up about the whole thing! If you talk about it behind someone’s back, don’t kid yourself into thinking you don’t look petty.
Gossip is never attractive, and it never builds respect and trust. Avoid it at all costs. If you have to say, “I wouldn’t say this to anyone but you . . . , ” reevaluate the comment. Chances are it should remain unsaid.