Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm really trying my best not to gossip at my New Job.

My residency was all about gossip and rumors. We residents would literally spend hours gossiping and exchanging rumors. One of the residents said something that really stuck with me, which was, "It's really terrible to gossip. Yet it seems like that's all I ever do."

It bugs me though because I've noticed that rumors have a tendency to not be true. Or at least warp the truth. And lead to unnecessary anger and resentment.

For example:

Soon after I came back from my maternity leave, I was gossiping with another resident. He said to me, "I have to warn you about something I heard."

Apparently, there was another female resident in my program who had a tendency to call in sick a lot, arousing the wrath of several other residents. Anyway, two residents were talking smack about her calling sick all the time in front of a female attending named Dr. Goody. And Dr. Goody nodded sympathetically and said, "Oh, I know who you guys are talking about! You mean the resident who just had a baby, right?"

I was SO ANGRY about this. I had worked with Dr. Goody for three months and never once called in sick. I had been back from maternity leave for two months and not called in sick once. I was furious that Dr. Goody would make this assumption about me. She should have stood up for me if she thought those guys were insulting me! What a catty bitch!

When I saw Dr. Goody at senior graduation a month later, she was really friendly and made big fuss over my new daughter. But I was still angry. I figured it was all an act and she didn't really like me at all.

Fast forward to over a year later:

I was chatting with a resident in my class, who was one of the residents who had been badmouthing that other female resident in front of Dr. Goody. Somehow that incident came up, and I discovered that:

1) It wasn't Dr. Goody who had overheard the conversation at all, and in fact, she had nothing to do with that incident.

2) The attending who DID overhear the conversation (and assumed they were talking about me) had in fact said, "You guys are being really unfair! She just had a baby!"

I absolutely can't believe I spent over a year being angry at Dr. Goody for something that had nothing to do with her. At that moment, I vowed to take every piece of gossip with a grain of salt. (Because obviously it's too fun to stop.)

What is your best cautionary tale about why we shouldn't believe the rumors?


  1. Ack! That is terrible. Gossip is like a game of telephone, a lot gets lost in translation!

  2. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.

  3. 22 years ago I was waitressing. Rumors in food service are rampant.

    Our manager got fired and they were brining in 'The General' .. we were terrified and rumors ran rampant of her firing the whole staff to start over fresh ... working double/triple shifts to stay on her good side ... no tolerance for mistakes, much less bad waitressing.

    New manager came in ...and she fired ONE person (who came in drunk for the third time) in the year she worked there. There was one waitress that was bad ...just plain bad and Joy took this girl and trained, retrained, trained again until Learned a lot that year ...particularly about gossip (that stopped all together when she came because that was one thing she would not tolerate)

  4. Not claiming to be perfect (cause I'm so not) but . . .

    Every once and a while I have the urge to spread gossip, in anger. Usually I try to take a break, quell the urge, and go straight to the source (in your case, it would have been Dr. Goody) with my problem.

    It always works. Anger diffused. Problem solved. My most recent example earned me a Butterfinger.

    I was the victim of a massive smear campaign, in residency. It took a couple of months to resolve, but I finally came out on the right end. Ultimately, deserving or no, I pitied the gossiper.

    Love what Outsider above said.

  5. I don't know.... I think it my case, it would have been worse if I confronted Dr. Goody.

    Someone spread some (untrue) gossip about me during residency. The person who got angry about it confronted me, and I in turn confronted the person who told the gossip in the first place. The person who told the gossip would not back down and admit what he did was wrong, and the damage to both friendships was permanent.

    (The gossip, FYI, was that some clinic attending asked me where another random resident, who wasn't even supposed to be in clinic, was. Moreover, I was asked while in the middle of dictating. I just said I didn't know, because I honestly didn't. Another resident immediately reported to her that I was deliberately trying to "sell her out" and get her in trouble for not being where she was supposed to be, wherever the hell that was. WTF?)

  6. When I got married during my first year of med school, my classmates gossiped that my foreign husband was marrying me for his green card. Then they gossiped that I was pregnant. It was really lovely.

    When I had the audacity to complete my program in an unconventional way (3 years med school before PhD instead of 2), the gossiped that I was going to drop out, and that I was intentionally trying to defraud the NIH so that I wouldn't have to pay tuition.

    I have to say, the gossip in medical school made me feel really alienated from the rest of my classmates. And now you tell me that it's going to continue in residency. It's interesting to see that people don't grow out of these unattractive behaviors. It makes industry look a lot more appealing.

  7. >>It's interesting to see that people don't grow out of these unattractive behaviors.>>

    People CAN grow out of this unattractive behavior, because that's exactly what it is: unattractive and immature. Gossiping caused trouble for me early in my career, and I've subsequently tried to be a "grown-up" and avoid partaking (you've been in the horse world yourself, so you know the gossip is particularly vicious, especially when one practices in a small community or on high-end horses. I do both, and word gets around FAST).

    >>It makes industry look a lot more appealing.>>

    Oh, dear. I worked in industry for a number of years prior to veterinary school, and there's plenty of gossip in industry, too, because gossip is a human failing.

    Some people are capable of behaving like grown-ups and I prefer their company.

    I'm not perfect, but as Gizabeth said, sometimes it's best to take a break and avoid gossiping in anger.

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  9. OR -- The gossip when I worked in industry before wasn't like the gossip in med school. Perhaps there are companies where it is..... and I have successfully avoided them thus far. No, gossip in industry was more like, "Stay the hell away from that person, they are about to be fired, and being fired is contagious," or, "Stay the hell away from that vice president. He tries to sleep with all the pretty young women here, and then THEY get fired and he gets promoted."

    On second thought, maybe industry IS like medical school, only with repercussions.

  10. When confrontation (and I hate that word, I like mediation better) looks like it will yield poor results (and I acknowledge, Fizzy, that there are times when mediation seems unlikely), I like to play dumb and ignorant. Kill gossipers with kindness. Make them feel guilty for ever spreading crap about me. It is all based on other's insecurities about themselves anyway, usually, isn't it? So I try (unsuccessfully at times) to always take the high road.

    Sometimes you don't want to gossip to hurt someone else, you just need to vent to relieve your own hurt. There is a fine line here, and inevitably it gets crossed.

  11. Way, WAY back in the day I worked at a practice that routinely did evening hours. Two of the other doctors (both male) and I went out to dinner and to play pinball (yes, that is how long ago it was) after work and the office manager took it upon himself to CALL MY HUSBAND....who knew all about it and told the guy to stay the h@*! out of our marriage.

  12. I know I should know better when there are women and caddy people involved, but I thought this was just going on in the nursing world. How disheartening... :(((((

  13. I just feel shaken that I've been at my new job for less than two weeks and I'm *already* gossiping a bit. Although since I don't know anything, it's more like I'm listening to other people's gossip.

    OMDG, you *didn't* marry your husband so he could get a greencard? I just assumed that was the case :P

  14. It is impossible not to hear gossip, but totally possible not to get caught up in it. I think the best way is to (lightly) move the discussion elsewhere. At a cookout recently, a friend commented to me and one other woman that she appreciated the hand-me-downs we all had given her for her daughter. Then she said about another friend (not present), "Hillary has given me some amazing stuff. If she buys something for her daughter and she won't wear it, she just bags it up and brings it over. I would never put up with that from Mia (her own daughter). If I buy her clothes, she is going to wear them!". The other woman said, "It's true.
    Hillary definitely lets her kids make their own rules. I'm with you. I would never let my kids do that either!". It's true that Hillary probably doesn't put her foot down with her kids as often as she should. None of these women are particularly catty. It was just that weird magnetic power of gossip. They looked at me to comment, and I could see it was headed for a weird ugly place. So I just said, "Hillary is so good at keeping her home from getting cluttered. She has no qualms about getting rid of stuff they aren't using. I end up holding on to all sorts of stuff my kids never wore just because I like it or don't want it to go to waste. That's why my house looks the way it does, I guess!". Moment over, gossip stopped before any harm was done, but no one felt bad because "Cop Tempeh" said "Hey, it isn't nice to gossip." The conversation turned to clutter and why we all store baby clothes for years and years, and everyone seemed frankly relieved that the gossip had stopped. I try to do something similar every time I can think fast enough on my feet to pull it off without awkwardness.

  15. Dr. Fizzy, no wonder your cartoons are so good!

  16. That kind of crap can really eat you up. I just try to ignore it, and forget it.

    That said, my med school glass gossiped a lot. Anytime any male-female pair were seen doing anything together (studying, eating, buying note cards at the bookstore) it immediately led to gossip that they were an item.

    I guess it's just human nature.


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