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Dominique J. Darmon - Have I Got Dirt For You

Using Office Gossip To Your Advantage

COMMUNICATION | HUMAN RESOURCE | PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

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“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

While gossiping doesn't have a great reputation, research shows that it is inevitable and can actually have a positive contribution to organizations. According to Dominique Darmon, there is an optimal balance we call the 'sweet spot' of gossip. Colleagues who never gossip are quickly considered to be socially incompetent and people who spend their time chatting away by the coffee machine, are judged as untrustworthy.

Have I Got Dirt For You is filled with scientific insights, real-life examples, and gossip situations from movies, series, and literature. With the help of this book you will learn everything about this inevitable form of communication. And about all the aspects that have an important role in the art of gossiping: finding the perfect balance is the key to success.

Dominique J. Darmon have been a senior lecturer at the Hague University of Applied Sciences. She teaches International Communication Management and is a member of the Change Management research group.


To be published in August 2022 | Paperback | 224 pages | ca. 80,000 words
Full English manuscript available
English and Dutch editions published by Amsterdam University Press

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dominique Darmon is a senior lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, since 2012. She teaches Journalism and Media, Intercultural Communication, Communication and Behaviour, and Ethical Communication. As a member of the Research Group Change Management, she is exploring the role of gossip in organizations. Dominique has more than fifteen years of experience as a television producer for Canadian broadcasters. She also worked for SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) as international campaign manager. Her work took her around the world.

RECOMMENDATIONS

“I love this book! Whether you call it gossip, dishing the dirt, or being connected to the grapevine, failure to exchange a wide-range of information is detrimental to your career. Dominique Darmon has done a terrific job of illuminating why you must be in the know at work and how you can do it respectfully and with integrity.”
Dr. Lois Frankel, author of the New York Times bestselling book Nice Girls Still Don't Get the Corner Office

“Dominique Darmon lays out a fascinating analysis of how gossip is good if we better understand it, know when and how to dish it out. She also offers examples of when to engage with someone offering juicy banter. With tips for both managers and employees, Darmon’s overall — and surprising — conclusion is that if you detest gossip and choose not to participate in it, you’re doing yourself as much damage as those who gossip too much.”
Financial Times

“You haven’t got this from me—but this is a scandalously good book! Okay, I heard that she hoards all the paperclips in the office, but with a quick wit, a sharp pen, and a strong base in both literature and anecdote, who cares?”
Gert Jan Hofstede, Prof. Dr. Ir. Artificial Sociality at Wageningen University and extraordinary professor at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, and co-author of the international bestsellers Cultures and Organizations and Exploring Culture

Have I Got Dirt For You offers valuable insights in an inevitable and valuable aspect of human interaction: gossip. There are great lessons for both the office and Zoom sessions.”
Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and author of the bestselling books Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst

“In this highly readable book, Dominique Darmon has made very clear that there are human behaviors that transcend cultures. Gossiping is a good example of this. While various cultures gossip in different ways, it will remain an important and meaningful activity for humankind. Recommended!”
Fons Trompenaars, speaker, consultant, researcher, author of Riding the Waves of Culture, and co-author of End of Discussion

“This is a must-read for everybody who thinks that gossiping is just for evil people. The author makes clear that gossiping can play a positive role, provided that you do it according to the rules of the game. Dominique Darmon explicitly and clearly describes these rules. Who wouldn't want to know more about that?”
Len Middelbeek, journalist and author

“An excellent approach to the concept of gossip and rumor. The science in Darmon’s book is solid and will open your mind to a broader view of these fascinating human qualities. May it stand on equal footing with the art of complaining!”
Bart Flos, bestselling author of The Anti-Complain Book

“A great introduction for anyone interested in understanding gossip, abundant with relatable examples and practical advice.”
Elena Martinescu, research associate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

"Darmon switches smoothly between such well-drawn hypotheticals and more technical analyses. As a result, the work does a pitch-perfect job of both eliciting the personal, universal nature of gossip and treating it seriously as a method of communication. Readers who’ve ever indulged in such conversation—and who hasn’t?—will look at the subject in a new light after finishing this book. A sharp, lucid, and compelling study of a relatable but rarely discussed topic."
Kirkus Review

"Engaging in office gossip is considered a productivity killer. But gossip on the job is better than its reputation, as Dominique J. Darmon, communication expert from the Netherlands, shows in her new book Have I Got Dirt for You. If you do it right, you can contribute to a better mood with a few tricks and tricks, get helpful information yourself and integrate colleagues more easily."
Handelsblatt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
What is gossip?
Origins of the word ‘gossip’
Attitudes towards gossip
Why we can’t keep our mouths shut
How much is too much?
Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for employees
• Tips for managers

CHAPTER 1: REASONS FOR GOSSIPING
• To gather information
• To maintain group norms
• To learn about the corporate culture
• To bond and to belong
• To reciprocate
• To vent and let out steam
• To confirm our views
• To make sense of confusing situations
• To entertain
• To compete
• To influence

Specific triggers
• Emotion
• Arousing situations
• How gossiping affects you

What triggers people not to gossip?
• Salient gain goal frame
• Salient normative goal frame

Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for managers
• Tips for employees

CHAPTER 2: CREDIBILITY
The difference between gossip, rumors, and other types of information disorders
Types of rumors
• The pipe dream or wish fulfilment
• Anticipatory rumors
• Anxiety rumors
• Aggressive rumors
• Wedge-driving rumors
• Functions and characteristics of rumors

Transmission and accuracy
• The grapevine
• Credibility
• Deterrence
• Transmission
• Anonymity

How rumors and false information spread
• The medium is the message
• Contagion

Rumors as weapon
Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for employees and managers

CHAPTER 3: THE MECHANISMS OF GOSSIP
What we gossip about
• Work-related gossip
• Non-work-related gossip

Who we like to gossip about
• The manager
• Propinquity

Getting caught: when the third party is no longer absent
Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for employees and managers
• Tips for employees
• Tips for managers

CHAPTER 4: THE WHO
Professional gossips
What does gender have to do with it?
• Bitchy or assertive? Stereotypes and expectations
• Different gossiping styles

Who we gossip with
• Alliances
• Optimal amount of people
• Relationship between gossipers
• Hierarchy and gossip

Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for female employees
• Tips for managers
• Tips for employees

CHAPTER 5: GOSSIPING ACROSS CULTURES
Cultural codes
• High-context versus low-context
• Individualism versus collectivism
• High power distance versus low power distance
• Masculinity versus femininity
• Uncertainty avoidance
• Information flow
• Honor, dignity, and face cultures
• The influence of religion
• Trust and friendship

Gossiping styles
• Acceptable topics of gossip depending on culture
• How direct can you be?
• Humor
• Gender matters

Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for managers and employees

CHAPTER 6: PLACE MATTERS
The traditional office
• The smoker’s corner
Working from home (during COVID times)
• On-stage, off-stage
• Codes of conduct for online gossip
• Shrinking networks

Flex Offices
Impact of culture on place
• Culture and remote work
Finding the sweet spot of gossip
• Tips for employees
• Tips for managers

CONCLUSION
• Reasons for gossiping
• Credibility
• Mechanisms
• The who
• Culture
• Place

About the author
Acknowledgements
Sources
• Books and articles
• News
• Talks
• Popular culture (literature)
• Popular culture (series and films)

Index

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Dutch translation published by Amsterdam University Press:

‘Drie kunnen een geheim bewaren als twee van hen overleden zijn.’ – Benjamin Franklin

Alhoewel roddelen geen beste reputatie geniet, blijkt uit onderzoek dat roddelen niet alleen onvermijdelijk is maar dat het ook een positieve bijdrage kan leveren aan organisaties. Volgens Dominique Darmon is er een optimale balans die we de ‘sweet spot of gossip’ noemen. Collega’s die nooit roddelen worden immers al snel als sociaal onvaardig gezien. Mensen die daarentegen voortdurend kletsend bij de koffiemachine staan zien we juist eerder als onbetrouwbaar.

Roddel je naar de top staat boordevol wetenschappelijke inzichten, praktijkvoorbeelden en roddelsituaties uit films, series en boeken. Dankzij het boek leer je alles over deze onvermijdelijke vorm van communiceren. En over alle factoren die een belangrijke rol spelen in de kunst van het roddelen: het vinden van de perfecte balans is de sleutel tot succes.

Dominique J. Darmon is sinds 2012 senior lecturer aan de Haagse Hogeschool. Ze doceert Internationaal Communicatiemanagement en ze is lid van de onderzoeksgroep Verandermanagement.

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