Gossip Free Zones

Gossip Free Zones (downloadable pdf) by Holly Elissa Bruno: On quashing and preventing gossip in the workplace. Written with children’s educational settings in mind, but easily tailored to an arts or arts educational setting.


Strategies for Supervisors Here are practical, everyday approaches to keeping up the momentum.

  • Update employee job descriptions. Add and enforce this statement as a functional requirement of the job: “Maintaining a gossip-free work environment.”
  • Be clear about your stand against gossip. Picture a director who posts this sign in her office: “Is this good for children and families?” That director can place every instance of gossip in its proper perspective. “Janice, when you spoke to Orlando’s mom about the payroll, how was that helpful to Orlando and his mom?”
  • Display your organization’s mission statement prominently. Early childhood mission and philosophy statements hold respect for others and ourselves as essential. Demonstrate respect through effective communication and problem solving, placing organizational goals over self-aggrandizement.
  • Problem solve using NAEYC’s Code of Ethical Conduct at staff meetings. Devote staff development sessions to building the skills needed to create gossip-free zones. Ask staff to practice applying the code to the case studies provided at the end of this article.
  • Provide staff with empowering statements and practices to stop gossip. “I need to focus on the children right now” or “I am not comfortable talking about someone who is not here” can stop gossip instantly. A more complete list of gossip stoppers follows, as do model peer problem-solving practices.
  • Develop an agreement for a gossip-free program. Offer staff development sessions in effective problem solving. Then ask employees to read, discuss, and sign an agreement such as the following. Include this agreement in the staff handbook and signed agreements in employee files (see “Agreement to Resolve Problems”).
  • Update your staff handbook. Add this statement to your policies: “Our program has zero tolerance for gossip” or “This program is a gossip-free work environment. We are committed to respectful, problem-solving communication.”

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