Gossip and Banter. Not the same thing.

Oh boy, here I go again. It’s one of those sessions, where I am thoroughly pissed off.

Right now, as I am sitting at my desk in my office on the seventh floor of a big building in Wellington, there are people sitting on the other side of my desk divider gossiping and moaning about other people sitting on the same floor, who are probably not that far away, trying to get an honest day’s work done.

DEFINITION:  gos·sip //  (gsp)  n.

  1. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
  2. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
intr.v. gos·siped, gos·sip·ing, gos·sips To engage in or spread gossip.


Why am I pissed off? Because this is destructive and unwanted behaviour from people who really should know better. The stories that they are ‘telling’ and ‘discussing’ with each other, is not positive. It is not even remotely helpful. It is what I would call “petty idle gossip.” And what happens to gossip? It turns into Chinese Whispers.

Truths are distorted and repeated… and whatever these two ladies are talking about right now, will be retold a multitude of times in a totally different context – not too far down the line.

Gossip is another form of story-telling. It is not fair on the subject, or fair on the people who really just don’t give a hoot, and because our office is open plan – they have to listen to it. 

Now banter, on the other hand, is a lot more pleasant to listen and engage in.

DEFINITION:  ban·ter //  (bntr)

  • n. Good-humored, playful conversation.

v. ban·tered, ban·ter·ing, ban·ters

  • v.tr. To speak to in a playful or teasing way.
  • v.intr. To exchange mildly teasing remarks.

As long as you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings in the midst of it, then I think that banter is fine. Banter is another form of rapport building. Something that you can definitely play with when developing character relationships with one another.  It also provides a bit of humour and light relief to the dialogue in your writing.

What’s the moral of this story? Don’t gossip, banter instead. It’s a lot more fun, and you don’t bring people down. Instead, you start building the bonds that hold everyone together.

Once again, I have gone from being extremely annoyed, to pleasantly positive. Thank you, little blog.


Leave a Comment

  1. Leigh,
    I wrote a paper on workplace bullying a few years ago. In my reasearch, I found that gossip and rumor spreading is one form of bullying. The gossipers are likely insecure or feel threatened by the person to which they have directed their destructive what-ever-they-saids. Guess who is the weaker, less professional adult? Problem is, they won’t see it like that.

    I’ve not worked any place where there aren’t atleast a few adolescents masquerading as grown-ups. Peace.
    Jeff Bennington
    Author of REUNION


    1. Thanks Jeff, yes, I would definitely tend to agree with you about it being a form of workplace bullying.
      It’s just really not called for.
      I’m liking your description of adolescents masquerading as grown-ups…. I really must remember that for next time when I hear it!


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