閒言閒語裡沒有寶藏

By: Robert J. Tamasy

對主管和經理來說,在職場排名第一名極要解決的普遍問題就是閒話。閒言閒語的定義是:關於別人私生活無聊的談話或是謠言。謠言對團隊的建立是很不利的。

閒話的內容可能涵蓋從工作的表現到辦公室的政治生態、或是猜測同事彼此之間有什麼不為人知的秘密關係。很多時候,這些閒言閒語對生產力或是友誼都沒什麼幫助,但是這不會降低人喜歡窺探他人隱私的誘惑。

「你絕對猜不到剛剛我聽到…」「你知道…她的丈夫有問題嗎?」「我昨天跟Jim聊天,他跟我說…已經快完蛋了。」「你有沒有注意到馬文最近行為怪怪的?他是不是又開始喝酒了?」你最近有沒有聽到像這樣的閒話?當你聽到的時候,感覺如何?

大家總覺得自己的工作量太大,卻總能找到時間去講同事的閒話。大概是因為講貶低別人的話可以增加自己的自信心,或者不說出來別人怎麼知道你「識多見廣」?

閒言閒語絕大多數是負面的,它會破壞人和人之間談話的目的,說閒話的人也不會有好名聲。聖經裡面對於閒言閒語和愛說閒話的人有一些看法和警告:

閒言閒語代表缺乏判斷力。 我們知道或是懷疑某些事情和人,不代表一定要把它們講出來。「義人的舌乃 似高銀; 惡人的心所值無幾。 義人的口教養多人; 愚昧人因無知而死亡。」 (箴言10章20-21節)

閒言閒語會破壞彼此的信任 。有時候同事跟你說一些私人的事是因為他相信你會保守秘密。一個不經意的洩秘可能會永遠破壞你在職場和個人的關係。「藐視鄰舍的,毫無智慧; 明哲人卻靜默不言。」(箴言11章12-13節) 乖僻人播散紛爭; 傳舌的,離間密友。 (箴言16章28節)

閒言閒語造成的傷害有時候比身體的傷害更大。一句格言曾說: 棍子和石頭可以傷害我,但是語言卻不能,這恐怕是不對的。有時候尖銳的、冷漠的或是不經思考的批評可能會造成極大情緒上、關係上或是靈性上的傷害。「說話浮躁的,如刀刺人; 智慧人的舌頭卻為醫人的良藥。」(箴言 12章18節)

即使是不小心說出來的閒話,都可能會造成比你想像中更糟的後果。就算我們的動機並沒有要傷人,但是這些不經意說出來的閒話卻是出人意料的具有破壞性。「這樣,舌頭在百體裏也是最小的,卻能說大話。 看哪,最小的火能點皀最大的樹林。舌頭就是火,在我百體中,舌頭是個罪惡的世界,能污穢全身,也能把生命的輪子點起來,並且是從地獄裏點著的。」(雅各書3章5-6節) 「謹守口的,得保生命; 大張嘴的,必致敗亡。」 (箴言13章3節)

省思/討論題目
從你進入職場到現在,你覺得閒言閒語是一個大問題嗎?如果是,請分享一下閒言閒語可能造成的衝突和問題。 你覺得處理職場上閒言閒語的問題很容易或是很困難? 如果你發現在同事聚會裡面,討論的主題變成說閒話,你通常會怎麼反應?你會加入嗎,還是靜靜地聽?或者你會採取一些行動來勸阻說閒話的人?分享你的答案。 關於閒言閒語這個主題,從聖經裡面你是否得到個人的領受,可以用來拒絕說閒話的誘惑?你覺得阻止別人說閒話是你的責任嗎?分享你的答案。備註:如果你手上有聖經,想要閱讀更多關於這個主題的經文,請參考:箴言 4章24節,10章19、32節,12章6、23節,15章1、4節,16章23、28, 17章28節,18章8節

NO GOLD TO BE GLEANED FROM GOSSIP
By Robert J. Tamasy

When managers and supervisors are surveyed about the most pervasive problems they must deal with in the workplace, one that typically ranks near the top is gossip. One definition for gossip is “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” So the focus of gossip in the workplace is not team-building.

The content of such gossip can range from job performance to workplace attire to “office politics” to speculating on behind-the-scenes relationships between colleagues. In many cases, none of these discussions contribute to higher levels of productivity or camaraderie. But that does not diminish the temptation to share juicy secrets about other staff not present to hear what is being said about them.

“You will never guess what I just heard about…!” “Did you know that … and her husband are having problems?” “I was talking to Jim yesterday, and he told me that … is on the verge of being terminated.” “Have you noticed Marvin has been acting strangely lately? Do you think he might be drinking again?” Have you heard examples of “information sharing” like these? How do you feel when you hear them?

People often talk about being overloaded with work, but some still find time to talk behind their coworkers” backs. Perhaps speaking disparagingly about others helps to enhance their self-esteem. Or it might be the appeal of possessing “inside information” others do not have; if you fail to share it, how will they know you have it, right?

Rarely, if ever, does gossip have positive value. It diminishes the object of the conversation, and the end result may also diminish the reputation of the one offering negative comments. Here are some insights about gossip and the wayward tongue, along with warnings presented in the Bible:

Gossip reflects a lack of good judgment. Just because we know – or suspect – something about another person, that does not mean we have an obligation to express our suspicions to others. “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment” (Proverbs 10:20-21).

Gossip destroys trust. Sometimes a colleague will share information in private, trusting that information will be kept in secret. A decision to be indiscreet and pass that information to others can forever destroy a professional or personal relationship. “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

Gossip can sometimes wound more deeply than a physical weapon. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is untrue. Often the damage resulting from harsh, uncaring, or even thoughtless comments can result is significant emotional, relational and even spiritual injury. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

Gossip, even if unintended, can bring consequences greater than ever imagined. Even if our motives are not to cause harm to someone, recklessly expressed words can prove to be surprisingly destructive. “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on first, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6). “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).

© 2015. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. His book, Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace, has just been republished.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Have you found gossip to be a problem where you work, either at present or in the past? If so, explain some of the difficulties or conflicts that gossip can produce. Why do you think that having to deal with gossip is such a common challenge in a workplace setting? If you find yourself in a meeting with fellow workers and the topic of discussion turns into gossip, how do you typically react? Do you find yourself participating in it, do you just quietly listen, or do you take some form of action to discourage the person or persons involved in gossiping? Explain your answer. What guidelines – that you have adopted personally or taken from the Bible – could you use in attempting to stop an exchange of gossip? Do you think it is even your responsibility to discourage people from gossiping about other people? Why or why not?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 4:24, 10:19,32, 12:6,23, 15:1,4, 16:23,28, 17:28, 18:8

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