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八卦和谣言是办公室润滑剂

Gossip and rumour are part of the fabric of working life — they entertain, inform and connect people, but they can also ruin reputations, destroy trust, create bad attitudes and even reduce productivity。

  八卦和谣言是办公室生活的一部分——它们让人们获得娱乐和信息,让人际关系更密切,但它们也能败坏名声、摧毁信任,造成不良心态,甚至降低生产率。

  What distinguishes the helpful consequences from the harmful is the intention behind what is said, how the information is perceived and acted on, and the length of time it is allowed to spread and fester。

  结果有益的八卦和谣言与结果有害的,其区别在于背后的意图,信息给人何种印象、促成何种行动,以及信息被允许传播和发酵的时长。

  As well as providing informal communication networks, gossip and rumour act as psychological spaces for perceived unfairness and power imbalances, or emotions such as jealousy, resentment, boredom and even hatred. When it is not possible to confront an issue or person directly, chats with colleagues become a way of offloading frustrations。

  除了提供非正式交流网络,八卦和谣言为人们眼中的不公和权力不平衡,或者嫉妒、怨恨、无聊,乃至仇恨等情感提供了心理空间。当人们无法与一个问题或者一个人正面对抗的时候,与同事闲聊成为了一种发泄郁闷的方式。

  People’s anxieties heighten at times of change and uncertainty, such as when an organisation restructures, changes leadership or undertakes a merger or acquisition。

  出现改变和不确定性的时期,比如组织发生重组、领导人变更或进行并购时,人们的焦虑情绪会增强。

  Such situations lead people to worry about how they will be affected. Who will be promoted or demoted, whose job will disappear or be changed, and who will be paid what?

  这些状况会使人们担心自己将受到何种影响。谁会得到晋升或者被降职,谁会失去饭碗或者职位发生变动,谁的薪酬又会是多少?

  In the absence of adequate information from management, people naturally create narratives to fill the void. The longer executives take to make decisions, the more anxious people become and the more rumours fill the vacuum and make sense of the uncertainty。

  在管理层公布的信息不足的情况下,人们会自然而然地提出各种说法来填补这一空白。高管们做决策花的时间越长,人们就会越焦虑,就越会有更多谣言来填补真空,试图为这种不确定找到合理解释。

  Nicholas DiFonzo, professor of psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology and co-author of Rumor Psychology , says: “The common denominator seems to be fear — we’re afraid of what this person in the organisation will do to us; we’re afraid of how [the] engineering [department] is going to get more money and we in marketing are going to get less money; we’re afraid of what this rival company is doing — and so we spread rumours about them。”

  罗彻斯特理工学院(Rochester Institute of Technology)心理学教授、《谣言心理学》(Rumor Psychology)的合著者尼古拉斯迪丰佐(Nicholas DiFonzo)表示:“共同的要素似乎是恐惧——我们担心组织里的这个人会对我们做什么;我们担心工程(部)将得到更多资金,而我们市场部的人得到的资金将会变少;我们害怕对手公司正在做的事情——因此我们传播关于它们的谣言。”

  Spreading negative rumours can make us feel better in the short term, but means we are less likely to take responsibility for either our predicament or obtaining the information we need from the powers that be。

  在短期内,传播负面谣言会让我们感觉更好,但这也意味着我们不太可能会为我们所处的困境或从当权者哪里获取信息负起责任了。

  Professor DiFonzo nevertheless believes organisations could not survive without informal information spread by word of mouth. “There’s a wealth of information that is not in the procedural manual and nobody is going to write it down,” he says。

  尽管如此,迪丰佐教授依然认为,没有口口相传的非正式信息传播,组织就无法存续下去。“流程指南以外还有丰富的信息,没人会把它们写下来,”他说。

  “It’s the kind of information you have to hear through the grapevine: what the organisational norms are, who you should approach and who you should not approach, and who gets paid what, the kind of information that is often secret。”

  “这是你必须靠谣传听来的信息:组织的规范是什么,你该接近谁,不该接近谁,某人的薪酬是多少,就是那种通常保密的信息。”

  Studies have shown that while rumours reduce trust in management and harm the attitudes of staff, they do not necessarily affect productivity。

  研究表明,尽管谣言降低了员工对管理层的信任,对员工的心态造成了不良影响,但谣言并不一定会影响生产率。

  Prof DiFonzo explains: “If I hear rumours about my company being downsized and [the] management won’t talk to me, there’s a great deal of uncertainty. I may feel worse about [the] management, I may trust them less, but I may work harder so that if there is a downsizing I will be retained。”

  迪丰佐教授解释道:“如果我听到谣言说公司正在精简人员,而管理层不置可否,事情就有很大的不确定性。我可能会对管理层感觉更糟,我可能更加不信任他们,但我可能会更努力工作,这样假如公司真的在精简人员,我会被留下来。”

  A senior executive of a large UK technology company, however, found that rumours left unchecked affected sales when disparaging stories spread about a product, resulting in staff being reluctant to sell it。

  然而,英国一家大型科技公司的高管发现,放任谣言流传会影响销售——贬低某产品的谣言四处传播,使员工不愿销售这款产品。

  “When rumours spread across the sales teams that a product doesn’t work or is difficult to implement, there may be an element of truth in them. But often the rumour is exaggerated and means that no one wants to deal with it...so sales decrease。”

  “当销售团队中流传的谣言称一款产品没有效果,或者难以生效时,这些谣言或许包含真实成分。但谣言往往夸大了事实,意味着没人想要解决这个问题……于是销量也会降低。”

  Although rumour often holds some truth, people’s interpretation of events tends to avoid complexity and personal responsibility, and is often directed towards an individual, a department or an outside rival。

  尽管谣言往往包含了一些真相,人们对事件的诠释往往会回避复杂性和个人责任,通常会指向一个人、一个部门或者一个外部竞争对手。

  Mannie Sher, director of the group relations programme at the Tavistock Institute and adviser to companies and organisations, believes rumour is often a larger systemic phenomenon that often targets an individual。

  塔维斯托克研究所(Tavistock Institute)群体关系项目总监、企业和组织顾问曼尼∠尔(Mannie Sher)认为,谣言通常是一种以个人为目标、范围更大的系统性现象。

  He says: “Rumours are about ‘an individual who acted badly’ because individualising a systemic problem is easier than to say to an organisation, ‘we have a problem which as a team we have to resolve’。

  谢尔表示:“谣言与‘一个表现不好的人’相关,因为将一个系统性问题个人化,比对一个组织说‘我们有一个必须作为一个团队共同解决的问题’更容易。”

  “Very often the route taken is to identify an individual who may have acted badly, and for the group to use him to project the group’s incompetence. We can say the CEO is a control freak and it’s because of him that we’re in this mess。”

  “通常的套路是,确定一个可能表现不好的人,然后群体会把群体的无能投射到这个人身上。我们可以说,首席执行官是个控制狂,就是因为他,我们才陷入一团糟的境地。”

  Gossip, as opposed to rumour, is often about social networking and bonding and can be entertaining, irresistible and even witty. Because it is so pleasurable, people tend not to consider the harm it causes。

  和谣言不同的是,八卦通常与社交网络和人际关系相关。八卦可以是富有娱乐性、不可抗拒,甚至诙谐的。因为八卦如此令人愉悦,人们往往不考虑八卦引起的害处。

  Although positive gossip occurs, it is the negative gossip most people enjoy more because it makes us feel better about ourselves and reassures us, because we are not the subject of it。

  尽管正面的八卦是存在的,但大多数人更喜欢负面八卦,因为这种八卦让我们自我感觉更良好,更自信,因为我们不是被八卦的对象。

  There are many motives for malicious gossip. Projecting our own feelings of inadequacy on others by putting them down rids us of our bad feelings and makes us feel superior. Gossip allows us to retaliate against perceived unfairness, act out passive-aggressive and envious feelings and redress power imbalances. People revert to gossip when they believe they cannot confront an issue directly。

  人们有很多动机进行恶意的八卦。通过贬低他人,我们把自身的不足感投射到他们身上,让我们摆脱不好的感觉,产生优越感。八卦让我们报复我们眼中的不公,用行动表达我们的消极抵抗情绪和嫉妒感,纠正权力失衡。当人们相信自己无法与一个问题正面对抗时,就会诉诸八卦。

  There is cachet to be gained from it. The office gossip gains influence as he or she collects valuable information while also creating a wealth of contacts. “In” and “out” groups then form around those “in the know” and those not。

  八卦还能让人获得声望。随着他或者她收集到宝贵的信息,同时与许多人建立联系,办公室八卦就产生了影响力。然后“知情”和“不知情”的群体就会围绕着那些“了解内情”和那些不了解内情的人形成。

  A woman who came to me for psychotherapy related how a colleague who was also a friend denied she was having an affair with the boss despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary。

  一个找我进行心理治疗的女性向我讲述,她的同事兼朋友否认其与老板有染,但有可信证据指向相反的事实。

  The betrayal she felt was aggravated by feelings of unfairness, powerlessness and distrust because of privileges her colleague was enjoying as a result。

  她的同事因此享受了种种特权,这使这位女性产生了不公、无力和不信任感,加重了她遭受背叛的感觉。

  Because she could not confront either party directly, she joined in the office gossip to clear her confusion, but primarily to have an outlet for her feelings。

  当事双方都是她无法直接对抗的。因此她加入了办公室八卦,以搞清楚到底是怎么回事。但从根本上说,这样做是为了发泄她自己的情绪。

  “I had my head messed up when she told me it wasn’t happening and I wanted to know what evidence people had, which was pretty compelling,” she says. “When it’s the boss, it is not bad behaviour that you can confront。” Joining in the gossip eventually left her feeling even worse when she was verbally attacked for spreading the news by a colleague who did not believe it。

  “当她告诉我没那回事时,我的脑子一团乱,我想知道人们有什么证据,结果发现那些证据相当有说服力。”她说,“因为当事人是老板,你不能对抗这种不良行为。”因为散播这消息,她被一个不相信此事的同事言语攻击——加入八卦最终让她感觉更糟。

  There is a positive element to gossip, though. It acts as a safety valve for grievances, allowing pent-up feelings to be released in a way that minimises potential damage. Rushing to a quiet corner with a colleague for a whispered rant is preferable to a flare-up with your boss。

  不过,八卦也有积极作用。八卦可以作为疏导不满的安全阀,让压抑的情绪用一种最大限度减少潜在伤害的方式释放出来。和一个同事冲到一个僻静的角落低声抱怨,总比冲着你老板发火更可取。


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