The Telephone Game
Aug 28 2011
Do you remember playing the telephone game (according to Wikipedia it’s called Chinese Whispers – the Chinese are taking over everything…or maybe they started everything) as a kid? It’s surprising how that game continues to be played, even if unintentionally, in business and groups when we are adults. We do it without even thinking. He said, she said, I heard it through the grapevine, and the next thing you know the person who supposedly said something in the first place gets completely surprised at how something they said is interpreted or that no one tells them anything about what’s going on because they are too busy talking behind their back. People seem to be afraid to go ask the implied source if it’s true for fear they might be misunderstood, be faced with retribution, questioned, laughed at or maybe they don’t want to lose the fun (the high) of saying things behind someone’s back. Gossip is addictive! I know I love good gossip. It’s a great way to bond with like minded people.
The game is fun for pre-schoolers and elementary kids, damaging to the hearts of teenagers, yet can be detrimental in business. Acting on inaccurate information can cause all sorts of trouble. If a company doesn’t minimize the negative gossip and promote the good gossip, they might not know what hit ’em when the competition, who has great internal communication, knocks them on their proverbial behind. Just go watch a few episodes of The Office and read Dilbert (my favorite comic of all time) and you’ll see what I mean. Below is today’s Dilbert on giving honest feedback to your boss/co-worker: