Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Escape the playground


Dr. Fitzgerald explains why it sometimes feels like we never left the playground.

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Escape the playground

Sometimes it seems like we never left the school playground. Bullies, crybabies, gossips, spoiled brats, and martyrs, we still see them everyday-and that is just in ourselves. Perhaps the worst of the childhood characters is the tattletale. Oh, how we all despised that child. When I was little, my mother would punish both the transgressor and the tattletale. She encouraged us to work out our problems or to bring them to her sensibly and calmly, without making lists of our brother's various infractions and shortcomings.

Do you have a tattletale at work? Certainly, you need to know what is going on, but there are ways other than employing a tattler. Keep your door open, listen to your staff, get out on the floor, and let it be known that you value constructive candor and have little time for gossip or tattling. Lead by example; avoid negative comments, sarcasm, or nastiness. Eliminate gossip and tattling in yourself, and praise those that follow your lead. A tattletale can be terrifically disruptive in the work place. Successful, well-functioning staffs share mutual respect, tolerance, communication, trust, and patience with each other. Tattletales are not trusted and lose the respect of their coworkers. They create an atmosphere of doubt that is contagious. Doubt, loss of respect, and other negative feelings that tattletales bring can cripple an organization. Workers are people: They vent, and they blow off steam. None of us would like everything that we said to be made public, let alone exposed to our supervisors. Tattlers are incredibly destructive to the esprit de corps of an organization.

Don't reward tattlers. There are better ways for you to obtain information about your staff. Watch your coworkers, listen to them, work with them, and train them. Create an atmosphere of positive energy, not a place where colleagues are spies, ready to parlay information into reward and advancement. Avoid tattlers. “The tattler and the wrong doer should likewise be punished,” thus sayeth my mother.

See you next week, Kev

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