From my earliest days of listening to women in my family talk about stuff I was not supposed to be hearing, I remember one or more of them saying, “A DOG THAT BRINGS A BONE WILL CARRY A BONE”. It might have been an intense conversation they were having about someone outside the family (and sometimes inside) bringing news of what someone else had said or done. You know, someone bringing the proverbial gossip. They were bringing a “bone”.
The workplace has its share of dogs bringing and carrying bones. It has its share of people whose personal mission is to keep stuff stirred-up. UNDER THE GUISE OF GIVING INFORMATION, THEIR REAL OBJECTIVE IS TO GET INFORMATION ABOUT YOU AND FROM YOU.
Sometimes the bone that is brought to you is for the purpose of taking you off your game and having you feel a little less confident about your role or status in the organization.
Don’t misunderstand me, there is certainly a need to have a small, close-knit network within which information about the workplace is exchanged and its impact assessed. There were only 3-4 women in my family constituting that circle of confidants. Being a member of the family was not automatic grounds for entry into the circle. Aunts, grandmas, sisters, husbands, and uncles all had to be properly vetted.
“Vetted”. Now that’s a word we are hearing a lot during this election year. It might not be a bad idea to define it. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, to vet someone is to “investigate thoroughly, especially in order to ensure that they are suitable for a job requiring secrecy, loyalty, or trustworthiness”. I hope you agree, vetting is a good thing to do before sharing bones, especially bones with any meat on them.
Before you send all those bone bearers (or collectors) running to the hills with a haughty “I don’t want to hear that!”, just listen quietly and hear what they have to say.
Keep the circle of confidants very, very small and properly vetted. This level of trust is earned over time and cannot be rushed.
Start by sharing small bits of benign information and see what happens.
Carefully observe individuals who always seem to be bringing you information.
React with caution when the news being brought is about you.
Avoid petty gossip about people. Engaging in it can be emotionally draining.
During the initial stages of the vetting process, share only those things you would be okay with seeing on the front page of the company newsletter – with your name next to them.
Utilize your small, very small, network of confidants to get information about what the company is planning and what the company is doing and how those things impact you.
Be fiercely loyal to a small, very small, circle of confidants.