01 Aug Catching a Trash Talk Bug
Here’s how Hector started his last staff meeting:
“I finished these prints last week and you guys never sent them out. Get this fixed. I should have done it myself.”
Later that day Daisy, a member of Hector’s staff, spoke about the climate in their department.
“Hector speaks that way all the time. Those prints did get sent out, of course. There was a glitch at the client’s end. But Hector never apologizes or backtracks – he just attacks. I find that I’m frequently in a bad mood now, and I think others feel the same way. I’ve noticed a lot more negative talk in general. It’s as though Hector has given permission for everyone to be mean – it’s as though the culture of our office now is rudeness.”
Is it a stretch to imagine that a little incivility can lead to a lot of it? Can one person be responsible for the tone of an entire department?
Morton, who works in the same office, said that when Hector was on vacation for a week in the spring, there was a noticeable change in the energy in the office. There was laughter and livelier communication.
I’ve seen coffee shops in which the tone is grim, and others where the workers seem to enjoy what they’re doing. I often look around to see if a manager is present, and what she or he is like. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be the person in charge who affects the climate. A snarky person at any level can infect the people nearby.
What to do? Hector and the coffee shop gremlins may never be happy campers, but they can be taught to see that their behavior can be catching, and that like any bug it needs to be treated.
Help cure the Trash Talk bug with our course, Creating a Harmonious Work Environment. You can make a difference!