To Gossip or Not to Gossip – At Work

The Grapevine

People love to watch other people.  People love to share.

Gossip is one of those moments of sharing – usually about something naughty that someone else has done or some dire news.

They call it the “grapevine”.  One person tells another who tells another and so on.  Of course, we know that the story gets distorted along the way.

“John saw the boss out with someone other than his wife on Saturday night.  Looked pretty cozy.”

“Carol got into a lot of trouble with Joan.  They started to fight in front of the boss and the boss told them they had to both shape up or ship out.  Carol said that she was looking for another job.”

“Did you hear that Bob and Joan are having an affair.  Policy says they shouldn’t but they don’t care.  They are anyway.  I saw them kissing in Bob’s car at lunch.”

“Did you hear that the Jenn’s entire department is getting axed?  I wonder what brought that on.”

Should You or Shouldn’t You Participate in Gossip?

One the one hand, it’s “news”, on the other hand, it’s hearsay.  Sometimes gossip may be true and sometimes it’s totally false.

It could be that the boss was out with his niece from out of town and there was only a small table available.  The kiss Joan gave Bob was on the cheek thanking him for help, and Jenn’s department is being moved to another part of the building to be closer to a team they work closely with.  It could be that Joan and Carol are both spirited and passionate resulting in passionate outbursts – neither are looking for a job.  Carol was talking about something else entirely.

Gossiping is Big Business – Men, Women and Children all do it!

People Magazine and other such magazines have created a huge empire gossiping.  Writers creating “society” columns are gossiping.  Gossip is a great social activity – everyone loves it and everyone does it – everyone.  The moment you utter someone’s name and something they did to another individual, you’re gossiping – men do it – women do it – children do it – it’s part of the social fabric.

BUT  . . . .  at work, it can get you into some very serious trouble. 


Work is the way you earn your money so you can live – shelter, food and clothing.  Gossip can get you fired – at the very least, it can create alienation either for you or someone else.

Don’t do it – it’s not worth it just to feel that you are “being part of the gang”.

What do you do instead?

Listen.  Don’t participate.  Don’t even offer an opinion – no matter what opinion you offer, it will go against you.  And whatever you do, don’t start a thread of gossip either.  Talk about the weather, the latest in sports or about some activity you are involved in – find topics outside of work if you want to network on the inside.

Outside of Workplace

AND whatever you do, do not pass on the gossip outside of work.  You never know who knows who and you could seriously damage a relationship.  For instance, you know Nancy from JVC company.  You’ve known Nancy for some time and meet up often for a drink after work.  You tell Nancy about the latest scandal at work and add your two cents worth to the story.  Little did you know that the person you were gossiping about was her uncle!!!  Oh, no!  She’s offended by what you said – relationship over!

If you must gossip, keep your work out of it – totally.  Remember, work is the means by which you earn money to meet your needs and want –  keep the stream of income flowing! Don’t do anything which jeopardizes that income no matter how innocent it may seem at the time!

Lorraine Arams
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How Can Time Management Be Extreme?

Extreme Time Management

– I thought you might be interested in reading this article about time management – some interesting comments and twists.

Look how easy it is to set priorities and support those priorities with action.  This is one of the simplest approaches I have found – with time, waste as little as possible and this quick approach crystallizes quickly what’s most important to get done.

And the tasks – so many of us simply don’t realize that we don’t have to do many tasks we “think” we need to be done or done by us – often, others can do them.  In some cases, there are no ramifications from not doing certain things.

Best of all – honor your time – we most often take time for granted – what do you think?


7 rules of extreme time management



In today’s business world, the old time management techniques are no longer enough. With the increasing pace of change, the pressures of downsizing and the growing expectation of instant communication and fast responsiveness, the tools and practices you used to manage your time are outdated. Here are seven rules for extreme time management that will put you back in control of your time and your life.

I. Know Why You’re Changing

What’s the first step in seizing control of our time? According to Brenda Buratti of Right Now Communications, who helps CEOs achieve “Extreme time management for a 26/7 world,” you first have to know why you’re trying to make the change.

Our time management habits are habits — and habits change only with difficulty. You’ll be much more effective when you have a powerful “why” — say, wanting to see your own kids as they’re growing up — to keep you going.

II. Keep a Time Log – and Analyze It

Once you know why you’re changing, you have to get off of auto-pilot and become “mindful.” Habits are “automatic behaviors” and cost almost nothing in terms of willpower or attention. (That’s why good habits are such allies, and why bad habits are so insidious.) Most of us allocate our time without really noticing it, and we are terrible at accounting for where our time really went. So, “write down everything,” says Brenda. “Every minute counts. Sometimes increasing your efficiency comes from finding five, five-minute segments that you can re-purpose.” You must keep the time log in real-time, as you go through your day. Don’t try to fill it in once every couple of hours based on your memory of what you did — really track where every minute goes.

Once you’ve kept the log for at least a few days, Brenda suggests you look for “unique time wasters” — the most common and wasteful are:

Ineffective Meetings


Low-Value Tasks

Bad Email Discipline (see separate article here)

Executives hate many of their meetings, and no wonder. Too many are poorly run, go too long and result in neither decisions nor actions. (Learn how to make your meetings more effective.)

If your meetings are like this; get out of them or change them.

Interruptions are remarkably destructive of effective work. If you get a five minute interruption, log it. When your log reveals you’re having ten of those a day, you’re starting to see what’s stealing your time.

III. Ask the “Four Vital Questions”

Brenda recommends asking yourself these “Four Vital Questions”:

What are your top priorities? (Often our tasks and time-use habits still support last year’s priorities.)

What’s the best use of your time to support those priorities? (De-prioritize the tasks that support low-priority goals.)

What are your truly vital tasks — the ones that only you can do? (Newly promoted executives are notorious for holding on to old tasks they should no longer be doing.)

What’s changing in your world that affects how you spend your time? (The world is changing faster and faster — and your business has to respond, so you have to respond also. If you ever hear the words “because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” treat it as a red flag.)

Each of your answers reveals previously hidden opportunities to reclaim time.

IV. Eliminate Tasks

One interim CIO of my acquaintance, upon taking a new role, would turn off all reports coming out of the IT department. Then he would selectively turn back on only those reports that someone complained about not getting. Find a way to do something similar with your work.

As Marc Lesser puts it in his book, Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, you really can eliminate a surprisingly large number of tasks, but you’ll never do it until you challenge yourself and challenge your process. People working on auto-pilot literally cannot do this.

Brenda had a client who was bitterly unhappy with her workload. Her time log revealed lots of trivial, almost clerical tasks. She literally didn’t realize until she saw it in her time log, how much non-management work she had taken on or retained. These were largely five to 15 minute tasks.

Next, the client delegated or just stopped doing these small tasks.

With Brenda’s coaching on this single area, this executive freed up nearly 10 hours a week.

V. Destroy Interruptions

The study of human effectiveness has found that any interruption will break your concentration, lowering your productivity for anywhere from five to 15 minutes. (The conceit of younger workers that they are good at “multi-tasking” is provably false — they’re no better at resisting the productivity-destroying effects of interruptions than their parents or grandparents.)

Brenda suggests: Turn off the email notification chime — that change alone can save you an hour a day.

Identify with the time log the interruptions — and the interruptors, the people — that are most frequently breaking into your concentration. For the people who need a lot of your face time, schedule that face time so they don’t need to interrupt you to get their needs met.

Some people have email chime, telephone calls, a chat window open and people dropping by. This combination of interruptions will chop up your attention and prevent you from gathering focus and being effective.

VI. Schedule Visioning and Strategy Time

Block out at least a half day each week to slow down and think about where you’re going. This is the most powerful time we may spend all week, yet it’s the first time we give up to do low-value high-urgency tasks.

VII. Honor Your Time

Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Honor it. Spend it on purpose. Nobody else will respect your time more than you do.

[Listen to my interview with Brenda Buratti here.]

Business consultant and author Tom Cox is a contributing columnist for Oregon Business



Lorraine Arams


Stand Up for Your Brain and Weight Loss

your brainStanding Up in a Sit Down World

I have attended workshops presented by Terry Small.  His focus is the health of the brain and his workshops definitely get the brain churning!  He recently had an article in one of his bulletins,  and I thought you might be interested in what he had to say.  Here is the article:
“Is sitting the new smoking?
The analogy may not be far-fetched. Scientists and medical experts believe that sitting is not great for you and your brain.
So many of us sit for long stretches at work and at school. And when we get home we sit some more. Prolonged sitting is bad for your health.
It’s not alarmist to say that all this sitting may be killing us. Research show that long bouts of sitting causes serious physiological responses related to chronic disease and a shortened life span. The University of Queensland found that people who stood up frequently had lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker for blood fat). They also had smaller waistlines. It was the frequency of standing not the duration that counted.
One study found that a woman’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased 26% for every extra hour of sitting. Prolonged sitting in an upright position can strain your back resulting in chronic pain. Blood clots are another risk of being inactive.  None of this is good for your brain.
Periods of standing throughout the day can improve circulation, muscle tone, and vitality. Standing up benefits the lean and overweight alike. Standing up frequently keeps blood flowing free to your head.
I have been telling people in my live presentations for years that standing up is important for brain health. It is also important for for your heart. Remember….what’s good for your heart is good for your brain.
It seems that when you sit down your body pretty much stops working. You and your brain were meant to move. Consider:
  • Taking more short breaks to stand up and stretch (or to walk). Maybe set a timer.
  • Have your meetings standing up (you will save lots of time on this one).
  • Stand up when talking on the telephone (studies show you will be perceived as having a better attitude).
  • Consider a standing desk (or just raise your old one).
  • Set you office up so things aren’t within arm’s reach.
  • Read standing up (I do a lot of this). Plus, you will remember more.
Standing for just 2 hours during an average workday can burn an extra 280 calories. In a year, that might provide a weight loss of 20 pounds. Standing while you work improves concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain. Many who stand state that their thinking is clearer and they have an increased ability to pay attention and focus.
I think the key here is to be mindful and make standing up a habit. It just becomes who you are.
Congratulations on learning something about your brain today.”
Terry has some important information in here – both for the health of your brain but for your entire body as well – circulation is important to bring nutrients and oxygen to every part of your body.

If you would like to visit Terry’s site, here is the link – click here

Lorraine Arams

How Will Your Week Be This Week? Four Tips For You

choosingHow will your week go this week?

Will it be fun or constructive or profitable or pleasurable?  How do you know?

Everyone knows that no two weeks are identical.  Some pleasures and some problems may exist through several weeks or months but the results of each week are quite different.  We just never know what is lurking in the next minute, hour or day – it’s a big surprise every single day we awaken and begin living the day.

Are we puppets?

To some extent we are.  There really is no way to predict what will happen to us during any particular 24 hours no matter how organized we are, no matter what great time management system we use and no matter how we “think” we control what happens in our world.


Because we simply cannot control everything in the world.  We can’t control other people.  People and events unfold in their own time and space.  Some people feel they can control people and events and their power is omnipotent.  Actually, it’s very limited.  They create a tiny sphere in which they have the illusion that they are “in charge”.  They are not.  No matter how long someone has been “in charge”, it’s finite and limited.

How can you make your week the best it can be?

Control what you can.  Calm down, smile and relax.

Watching the Masters this week-end, one young player seemed as though he was just having a game with his buddies during the four days of the competition.  On the last day, when the pressure was the most intense to win, the “wheels fell off” as they so often do in sports.  A sure thing can turn sour very easily.

The minute that tension is uncontrolled, it’ll “get you”!  Things you wouldn’t normally say or do, you say and do.  Like this young man, his weakness showed up as his mind let go of all it had learned and practiced during the weeks and months prior to the Masters.  A tendency towards directing a particular stroke showed up.  A massive lead disintigrated in minutes.  Once the negative mind takes over, the game is lost.

4 things you can practice every day, all day long to keep you on top of your game:

a)  take 3 deep breaths several times a day – don’t let tension build up. Put a recurring event in your electronic calendar to remind you every half hour.

b)  exercise every minute you can – take the stairs instead of the elevator, take your coffee “for a walk”, walk for 10 minutes at lunch

c)  have a picture on your desktop or on your wall or both which reminds you of relaxation – a beach you love, a mountain you hike all the time, your boat, a tent or campfire, etc.  Change the pictures often so you don’t stop “seeing them”.  Our mind gets used to something and we don’t notice it anymore.

d)  control the thing you can control – your mind.  Check your thoughts several times a day – how?  By what you’re feeling.  If you’re feeling dark and somber, your thoughts are negative.  If you’re feeling light and airy, your thoughts are positive.  Stay on the positive side – you can see so much more clearly from that vantage point!

Relaxation takes practice.  Tension no so much.

Little things you do consistently throughout the day, every day, will help you make your week the best it can be no matter what happens.

Lorraine Arams


Our Biases Cost Us Dearly

My very favorite YouTube video (if you want to see it just click here) inspires.

Every time life throws me another curve, my spirit is lifted.  Sometimes, I’ve replayed this video for an hour to fill me up with what I need to get up and go again.  Life has been quite tough for a while as I face challenges I never dreamed I would ever face.

Most importantly, it’s a lesson in our human psyche.  For any of us who have ever experienced discrimination because of others’ biases, this video shows us in full color the cost of bias.

In color for all to see . . .

A real live example of age and physical appearance biases.  We all lost for a very long time because she didn’t “fit” the false belief that a person has to be slim, gorgeous,  and polished with flawless skin to have talent.

Real looking people have real talent too!

The opinions were swift to show . . .

There she stood.  Ridiculed when she told of her dream.  How dare she have a dream like that at her age and with those “looks”!  They laughed.

She ignored their jeers – she probably had heard them her whole life.

Little did they know that they were just about to have an experience of a lifetime – coming face-to-face with the darkest parts of themselves in the form of biases – – talent isn’t wrapped in slim, current standards of beauty – talent comes in many unexpected forms.  Could they ever know what was about to hit them?


The Aftermath . . .

How many in that audience actually went home and thought about how they themselves had reacted that day and changed?  How many people changed?  How many people started to address their biases?

She just didn’t sing.  She held up a mirror to society’s phoniness!  36 years to hold on to a dream – the tenacity, the strength, the endurance and the dedication is beyond what most of us would ever even think of giving any goal!

“I’m going to make that audience rock” , she said – do you think she did?  She made them rock on the ouside and the inside!  I took only a couple of bars and they were on their feet – shocked!  She reached down into their souls – she does it to me every single time I view this video.

“I Dreamed a Dream” – she did for 36 years!  How many of us would have that courage, that fortitude?  Yet, they laughed.

A major lesson can be learned by us all . . .

I hope that parents who have children bullied at school will show this inspirational video.

I hope those of you who are discouraged because your life has had a turn for the worse for a very long time, take inspiration and courage from this individual who waited so long to share her talent with the rest of us.

A nice, plain lady with an extraordinary talent.  How was that talent missed all these years?

Our biases.

In your workplace and at home, look for the talent – nurture it, make it blossom and enjoy the gift.  The right talent most often is not in a nice little package with the right wrapping, ribbons and colors – sometimes, the right talent comes from a place we wouldn’t expect.

I had  a situation like this in the workplace.  A wonderful human being.  All people could see was that she was overweight.  The bias was obvious.  She worked hard and was very smart.  She was willing to do what it took to move ahead in her career.

I gave her chances.  She shone.  Eventually, she rose from clerk to senior assistant in the head office.  Then, in private industry, she became a manager – her bosses loved her because she delivered excellent work and was dedicated.

What would have happened to her if we hadn’t met?  Would she still be a clerk because no one gave her a chance?

When employers complain they can’t find good help, they should look in the mirror first.  What is it in themselves, as an employer, that is not reaching and hiring the type of people to fill the “good people” criteria.  If you an employer doesn’t have good people, it’s their fault, not the employees’ – a lesson I learned the hard wayLook at biases first and foremost.

In our lives in general, when we complain we cannot find good friends or connect with good people, look around – you may be blind because of your biases.  Where are your biases:  age, body size, type of dress, hair do, mannerisms, race, appearance, height, language – so many reasons for biases, none valid.

Eliminate your biases – look for the gifts – you might be surprised!  A diamond never comes out of the ground polished!

Lorraine Arams