How To Beat The Dreaded Chinese Whispers
Information always leaks out – no matter how hard we try to avoid this and people will always create nuisance and mischief by adding in more detail that suits their purpose and goals.
Making sure a coherent, clear and effective message is communicated is an essential management skill.
Try the following approaches to avoid getting into that messy situation:
- Make sure that your reputation is intact: a spotless reputation is critically important so beat your deadlines, meet all targets, keep your promises and rise above any level of suspicion.
- Get in there first: make sure that your team is fully in the loop all of the time. Make your meetings effective and your communication style impeccably correct. Every time.
- Identify trouble-makers first: spot those who circulate rumours in their tracks. If these people are genuinely worried or concerned about work matters pacify them and reassure at every opportunity.
- Make sure everyone has plenty to do: rumour and gossip often starts when staff have too much time on their hands. Remember the saying “The Devil makes work for idle hands” and never forget it!
- Share important and large news items as soon as possible: never wait for the full picture to emerge because when you have all of the information it is already too late! This gives fuel to the rumour mill and once this begins it is very hard to stop.
- Get feedback: once the news is out ask for a reaction and be prepared to deal with the issues that get raised in a caring and even-handed manner. Be honest and if you do not know the answer promise to find it and report back.
- Be available and keep the talking going: once the news is out be there to answer questions and repeat the message if necessary.
- Rise above it all: never get sucked into a rumour cyclone. This only fuels the fire and makes life increasingly difficult in the long term.
Avoiding the temptation to become involved in rumour, gossip and Chinese Whispers is an important part of being a successful manager – getting a poor reputation in this area is VERY difficult if not impossible to shake off.
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