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January 11, 2010
Squelching Workplace Gossip With Good Communication

Communication styles are important to recognize and respect. You'll get more accomplished if you communicate well in the setting you occupy. At a workplace in Livingston, Montana, communication awareness seems paramount with beneficial results for all. Shayla McKnight says gossip isn't a problem at PrintingForLess.com, because just about everyone understands it isn't helpful.

People are expected to be respectful of each other. New employees are given a communication assessment to determine their communication style. Those styles are identified by colors, which appear on the nameplates on their desks.

"If someone is a 'red,' for example," McKnight explains, "he or she appreciates when others are direct and states the facts quickly. A person who’s a 'blue' enjoys having all the details and time to process them. A 'yellow' is spontaneous and likes a personal connection."

"I’m a 'green.' That means I’m sensitive and like to be approached as courteously as possible; greens tend to be compassionate and supportive."

McKnight says a stronger sense of being part of a team exists at PrintingForLess.com than at other jobs she's had. She attributes that to the communication climate there -- one that doesn't need to be guessed at but is perfectly apparent and well respected. 

If an employee does violate the company's "no gossiping" policy, they're advised to go to the appropriate source for information, or a manager talks with them. If they continue, they're let go.

Everyone seems focused on work and moving he company ahead. That's the function of good organizational communication, and this seems an effectively relational communication setting. Shayla didn't think it would be possible to squelch gossip, as it was always present at her other workplaces, but apparently it can be done.  


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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