all you ever do is talk, talk, talk…

The gossip mill is whirring again at work. The subject lately has been the possibility of layoffs. Sadly, much of the time the gossip has been correct.

Two different things make this speculation and fear difficult to deal with: People like to talk–and companies don’t like to reveal anything to their employees, even if the subject is what color to paint the break room. (“We heard you plan to paint the break room walls purple.” “That’s classified information, and we aren’t allowed to discuss that.” “But, we saw 62 gallons of purple paint being delivered this morning.” “Oh. You weren’t supposed to see that. Don’t tell anyone else.”)

Of course, in less than an hour everyone knows about the 62 gallons of purple paint and puts two and two together when they see the painters setting up in the break area. By the time the memo goes out letting everyone know about the painting of the walls, the painters are at least half-done and management is already planning to have drywall put in because the delivery person from the office supply company lost control of the flatbed and drove a hole through the freshly painted wall.

You can imagine how quickly important gossip, like department restructuring and layoffs, fly through a company. Faster than that flatbed full of copy paper bashes a hole in the wall, that’s for sure. (I want to know how the guy who can’t drive a flatbed keeps his job. It must be the most secure job ever. Heck, I can drive a hole through drywall with a flatbed.)

The most annoying kind of gossip is when everyone knows what’s going to happen in your department except for the people who work there. Everyone else assumes you already know that, say, your department is being shifted from one vice-president to another. Even people who have been retired from the company for years asks you about what’s happening. Even that guy who drives the flatbed through walls knows more than you. Then, when you ask your supervisor about what people have been telling you, they say they can’t talk about it.

Then, after the layoffs, the purple break room and the department restructuring, management sends out a memo telling people not to gossip, and a questionnaire asking employees why morale has been down lately.

Yep, sometimes life copies Dilbert.



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