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!  

Originally posted on: 15 February 2018
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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