The proverbial water cooler may be a proverbial cliche — but it’s still a powerful place to catch some of the most recent workplace pass-along, hearsay, and gossip. And for the most part, gossip is usually consider to be, well, just that. Something many value, but many discount out of hand.
According to clinical psychologist Offra Gerstein, gossip might be more valuable than we think — particularly good gossip.
Research has found that, at its base, gossip is good. “Exchanging information between people is beneficial for creating a healthy connection, building social norms for acceptable and unacceptable behavior and improving society,” Gerstein writes.
Especially in the corporate setting, gossip can offer value: If someone is being praised, others will want to emulate their behavior, practices, and processes. Even negative gossip can be useful: “When a company faces bad times, gossip about the future of the employees offers a reduction of fear and uncertainty and creates camaraderie.”