what do you do when you don t actually see the problem? Coworkers complain endlessly, saying things like ˜He s impossible to work with, ˜He can t be trusted, and ˜He never listens to feedback. How do you handle hearsay?
When people consistently complain to you about a specific employee, you face an interesting challenge. How do you share hearsay? If others are not willing to talk to the person themselves or own up to the negative feedback, you have no right to confront that person on the basis of secondhand information. That would be both unfair and unhelpful. You re not close enough to the problem to share detailed feedback, and so you end up making general complaints that leave the person upset and confused .
Naturally, if employees complain about something that is dangerous or illegal, you need to consult with human resources immediately.
Master your own story. Refuse to accept other people s gossip as fact until you gather firsthand information. When you adopt other people s stories about someone as your own, you surrender control. Observe the problem on your own. Then you can describe the problem in detail. More important, you can own it as well. Rather than coming off as a messenger or having to apologize for what others think, you can address the problem head on. People deserve to face their accusers. They also deserve specific, detailed feedback. Anything short of this is unhelpful and unfair. And who knows ? As you gather your own data, you may end up with a story different from the one that others attempted to induce you to believe.
The family version of this problem revolves around the ever-present tattletale. The same principles apply. Unless safety is at risk, gather data on your own. Carry your own message.