Momentum Podcast: 448

Gossip Kills Momentum

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Gossip is one of the most destructive forces in any organization. Gossip slows everything down. I suggest that everyone has a no-gossip policy in their business, but you have to understand that adhering to this policy has to come from the top. In the business, I ran when I was younger, I was one of the biggest sources of gossip there was. 

When I look back with perspective, I can see why the people I worked with didn't feel safe and why I didn't feel safe. You have to be the best example of the no-gossip policy in your business. A company where gossip is part of the culture is damaging for leadership and for team members. A company where gossip is part of the culture will have a hard time growing. If you're ready to start building your business fast right now, go to 

Full Audio Transcript

Gossip is one of the most destructive forces in an organization. Talking about people behind their backs creates an atmosphere where people are for with good reason, looking over their shoulders. They don't feel safe. They feel tons of constraint and they feel their momentum being taken away.

Gossip slows down everything. That's why I think you should have a no gossip policy. However, before you put it in place, you have to understand that the person who really can't gossip and drives the success of this policy is you. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.

Having a no gossip policy is one of the most progressive things I've done in the businesses that I've run. I started this well over 10 years ago. Having a policy where gossip in any way is just not accepted and not allowed. And here's how we define gossip. It's talking to anybody about a problem who can't help you create a solution. If you're talking to a manager or leader and letting them know there's an issue, that's not gossip, that's actually progress, that's transparency, that's getting something out there so that we can correct it. But if you're talking to a coworker who has no control over correcting the situation and you're just telling them you're upset or frustrated or irritated with something in the business, that is gossip, you're slowing yourself down, you're slowing them down, you're creating the wrong type of energy and you're making everything feel like it has constraint.

And so we don't allow gossip. Also, it goes without saying. We don't allow gossip talking about other people or talking about our clients or talking about people who we're working with because it just makes everyone feel unsafe and slow. However, if you're going to put a policy like this in place, you'll have to be careful that you don't become the biggest gossip. And I want to share with you in a very transparent and very real way that in the businesses I ran when I was younger I filled that role. I'm not proud of it, but it's real. I was, I think one of the biggest sources of gossip in the companies that I used to run. And now when I look back with perspective, I can admit the massive overwhelming mistakes that I used to make when it comes to gossip and people and why there was so much gossip in my businesses and why people didn't feel safe and quite frankly, why I didn't feel safe.

When you have an organization where gossip is part of the culture, when you have an organization where people are talking about each other, you have an organization that people are gossiping about you and talking about you. And so you as the CEO will not feel safe in that organization. When you work in an organization where people don't talk about each other, when you work in an organization where people talk about the process and how they're going to correct it, when you work in an organization where people support each other and they solve issues, you will feel safe and you will feel like you can get more done and you will feel the momentum of being on a team like that. I want you to not only have a no gossip policy, but I want you to enforce it. And the only way you can enforce it is if you follow it.

If you are the best example of what having a no gossip policy is, and that means that as the CEO in your business, you'll have to be very careful that you're never gossiping about people, that you're honoring the absent, that you're making sure that you don't start accidentally gossiping and talking about people. So let me tell you four places where I used to make regular mistakes and I'll be honest, every once in a while I still make a mistake. But these days I catch myself.

These are four places where you may unwittingly and not purposefully end up gossiping and setting the wrong example for your team. First when it comes to past team members, I'll admit that this is a mistake I used to make constantly when I was running companies. As I share this with you right now, I'm actually getting a body reaction because I feel so responsible and I know what effect this had on my team members. When you're young and you first start a business, you don't really realize the consequences of your actions in the present, so you're not that concerned by 'em. When I was younger and we would let go of somebody, five days later, 10 days later, two weeks later, three weeks later, they would be gone. And then I would make a comment to somebody that currently worked with me like, "Hey, don't screw that up like so and so did."

Or we would find a mistake that a person who used to work with us made and I would say like, "What was so and so thinking?" Now here's the problem. They're no longer in the company. You're just attacking someone that can't defend themselves. I was just attacking someone that can't defend themselves and to the person standing in front of me, I was just a CEO attacking and if they're standing there hearing me attack the person who's no longer there, their first instinct and rightfully so. The thought that they have is, "I wonder what he's saying about me when I'm not around."

So don't attack your past team members. If you're in a situation where you find something that somebody has done, talk about the process, not the person. Because if you're attacking past team members when they're no longer with you, if you're attacking past team members and they're not in the room, you are going to cause a level of distrust on your team. The person that is hearing you do that, the person that's watching you do that is going to lose trust in you as a CEO. And again, rightfully so. First things first, don't talk about past team members in a way that is critical or harsh. You can do it in a factual way, but be careful about how you talk about them. This was a place where I stepped out of line often as a CEO.

The second place where you have to be really careful about gossip is current conflicts. If you're talking about the human beings in current conflicts, it will sound like gossip to the people around you. If you're talking about the conflict and how to resolve it, then you're just talking about the conflict. So be careful about how judgmental you are towards people as a CEO. Remember what you say gets heard through a megaphone and seen through a microscope. What I mean by that statement is that what you do, what you say is exaggerated because you carry the weight of being the CEO.

Everything you say has a higher level of importance and a higher level of impact because of the position you're in. You don't really have to do anything else besides just say anything and it already is more serious than most people saying it because you're the CEO, because you run the business, because you're the person in charge, because your opinion matters more than anybody else's. So don't forget that. Be careful talking about current conflicts. Talk about the conflict, the issue, not the human beings.

The third place as a CEO to protect yourself from gossip and to make sure you're not the biggest source of gossip. And this one's big, is with clients. I can't tell you how often I've heard an entrepreneur say something negative about their clients. Like, "Oh man, our clients are so annoying." Or our clients are this or our clients are that. And I'll be honest, I've done. When I was a consultant in my twenties, I'm embarrassed to even say this out loud, but we used to make fun of our clients. We used to have like running jokes on our team about the mistakes that clients made and the issues that they had. And it was almost part of all our culture to kind of joke and make fun and kind of that dark humor of clients not really knowing what they're doing and not doing what they needed to do and us being frustrated with it. So we had like this whole joking culture about it and I didn't realize, I do now.

That's why I'm embarrassed to even share it with you, but I want to share it with you so that you don't do this so that you don't have these same feelings of regret I do later on. Because we had an atmosphere where the people who were paying us, the people who were responsible for our company being in business, our clients were also being disparaged and made fun of and joked about and, not all the time, it wasn't all we did, but did it happen? Absolutely. Do I know now just how damaging that is? It's overwhelming, by joking about my clients by talking behind their backs, by making fun of them when I was younger I created an atmosphere on my team where we didn't respect our clients. Well we did what we had to but they weren't really as important as they should be.

By making fun of them, I actually devalued them, by gossiping behind their backs I created an atmosphere on that original team where it was okay to make fun of clients and that just is so damaging because it taints the way your entire team looks at clients. When your team respects your clients and the client has a complaint, they jump all over it to fix it. When your team is joking about their clients and making fun of them behind their backs like I was, and again, it pains me to admit this to you, I would never do this today, but when you are, it means every client complaint, every issue that your clients have is kind of a joke, it's kind of more of the same. It's reinforcement of that joking gossipy culture that challenges everything. And so then client complaints don't get taken care of. Your clients don't get the best service that they could.

And then the fourth place, and this is a big one where you have to be really careful about gossip is with your vendors. If you have a vendor that isn't doing what you want them to do, gossiping about them, talking negatively about them, saying like, talking about who they are or what they're doing and in a way that's not productive creates an atmosphere of gossip. When you talk about vendors who aren't doing the right things, who aren't giving you what they want in a factual way. When you share it with your team in a problem solving way, that is a completely different way to share it. But when you're frustrated and angry and just talking about what you didn't get or what you wanted and what didn't happen, and it comes across in a way that's gossiping, again, you create that atmosphere on your team.

And here's the challenge for all of us. When we create an atmosphere of gossip, the person who is most exposed in the business is us. And when we create an atmosphere of gossip and talking behind people's backs and making fun of people. You have to expect, you have to understand, you have to forecast the fact that you will have those same things done to you as the CEO. You've created an atmosphere where it's okay to make fun of people, to gossip, to joke around, to talk behind people's backs and it's going to happen to you. And even worse, it's going to happen to your team members. And when you promote people to leadership, it's going to happen to them. A company where gossip is part of the culture is a damaging culture for leadership. A company where gossip is part of the culture is a damaging culture for team members and a company where gossip is part of the culture is a company where people will have a hard time growing. You will lose your A players and the people who stick around are going to be the ones who put up with things.

You don't want that. Mandate a no gossip policy. Stop talking behind people's backs. Honor the absent and only have a conversation with someone about a problem if they can help you effect a solution, no gossip policies will create a massive amount of momentum, remove constraint and pull your team closer but only if you as the CEO are the example of what no gossip should look like. As the CEO this is your responsibility. It's one of the most important things you can do. This will help you create more momentum on your team right now than you ever thought possible.

Get rid of gossip, make it a policy and be the example. If you're ready to start building your business fast right now, go to a Fill out our application and here's what I want you to think about. As you answer the questions, they will cause you to think about your business in a way that you probably haven't until now. In fact, we've had people tell us that just by going through our application, sorry, just by going through our application process, they've made major changes and improvements in their business. Go to Fill out the short application. Get your copy of the billionaire code decoded. Let us show you exactly where you are on the billionaire code, the path to success for entrepreneurs and exactly where you should be focused now and we'll give you an opportunity to set up a call with our team.

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