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Keeping Conversations Beside the Watercooler Meaningful

February 15, 2018 Nicole Lyons

Gossip in a work environment can range from benign to toxic. The dynamics of working with large, diverse groups of people inevitably lead to squabbles and resentments; it seems to be human nature. But instead of automatically assuming the worst, try to focus on a positive attitude that doesn’t require shaming others.


Don’t believe everything you hear

We all gossip. Even if you never say anything harmful or mean about someone else, you still comment about what is going on around you. This practice can be hurtful to others, especially when things are taken out of context. Spending some time with your employees chatting at the ‘watercooler’ is important for leaders, but you want to make sure the time spent is meaningful, and not full of malicious or hateful words.

Building rapport is essential for a leader, and engaging in chit chat is a great way to learn about others. Research has shown that socialising is good for your brain. However, balancing the fine line between a conversation and gossip can sometimes be tricky. And what if the chatter is about you?

Is there some truth to office whispers? Learning how to filter through the noise

There can be some truth to the office whispers. An unintentional word overheard, a misunderstanding or a bit of resentment can cause rumors to fly. Learning how to focus on the positive, and how to check your own attitude in the workplace will improve your leadership abilities.

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”


Neuroscience is teaching us how our brain works, and brains that are constantly rushing from one meeting to the next, or mired in the sticky world of gossip, are not going to experience new, innovative thoughts. But innovation can be developed through exercises that strengthen imagination, drive, curiosity and attitude.

An attitude that embraces change and seeks positivity will create a brain that sees opportunities and experiences instead of threats and scandals. Realizing that many times people say things in the ‘heat of the moment,’ and that this makes us perfectly imperfect humans is also vital for an effective leader. While this doesn’t excuse malicious gossip, sometimes rumors are a simple misunderstanding.

Rise above the drama and create a workplace where anything is possible

The i4 Model can help you understand how the right attitude can create the proper brain environment that you need to allow for new neuronal connections. Imagining the possibilities first, and then believing that these can be attained will let your brain work on translating that belief into reality.

Social media has allowed for gossip on a grand scale, but it can also be a valuable tool to build innovation and communication, to encourage engagement, and to nurture networks across an organisation and across the world.

Humans are naturally inquisitive, and we enjoy hearing about others, and yes, even talking about what is going on in other people’s lives. A good leader can use this inquisitiveness to create the conditions needed for learning and innovation, so pause at that watercooler!  

Improve your Attitude  Ever wondered what attitude adjustments you need? New advances from different  scientific fields are helping us better understand how our brains and bodies  function and the incredible impact they have on the way we lead.  Learn how our i4 Neuroleader Program can help develop your personal leadership. Download Program Guide

Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

Nicole is the About my Brain Institute's researcher and blogger. As a writer and science educator she is passionate about sharing scientific knowledge to refute ignorance and misconceptions. Nicole is also a devoted wife and mother to two children, two cats, a dog and frog.