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Zip it!

Admit it: You like to gossip. Who doesn't? Gossip is popular for the same reason that shows like Desperate Housewives are hits. It's cheap entertainment that lets us escape into someone else's problems rather than confront our own. Gossip is often a form of schadenfreude - delighting in someone else's misfortune.

You might be thinking, "That's not me, I don't do that." Maybe you don't, but I bet there has been a time you've used gossip to curry status at work or in other peer groups. Information is currency. You might feel that by showing others you're "in the know" on the latest gossip, you're upping your place in the pecking order.

Resist that urge. If you've learned anything from me, you've learned that your quickest path to success is always by building relationships that are solidly grounded in the principles of generosity, intimacy, and accountability. Gossip satisfies none of these.

Of course, there are practical reasons not to gossip, too. You might pass on misinformation and be held accountable when the truth comes out. You are also promoting a culture that may one day seize upon you as grist for the mill. But perhaps most importantly, every minute you spend gossiping you're wasting time that could be spent reaching out to someone important in a positive way.

On that note, here's a suggestion: For one week, make a concentrated effort to avoid gossip entirely. Mark it on your calendar so you have a daily reminder. If you encounter a situation that could lead to gossip, or feel the urge to gossip, zip it. Casually shift the conversation to something positive, or excuse yourself.

Then, take a moment to reach out to someone you haven't touched base with in a while - a family member, an old friend, a possible business collaborator - or to someone new whom you've been meaning to make a connection with. In other words, spend the time you would have spent on negative yakking doing something positive and productive.

To give your efforts a little inspirational push, consider an alternative to schadenfreude, a Buddhist concept called mudita. Mudita is the joy that comes from celebrating another's good fortune. That's not easy - Buddhist scholars consider it one of the hardest virtues to cultivate - but kicking a gossip habit is a strong start.

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About the Author: Keith Ferrazzi

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Widely hailed as one of the world’s most “connected” people, Keith Ferrazzi is the author of Never Eat Alone, the international bestselling book about building relationships for success. Ferrazzi is also an acclaimed speaker and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a consulting and professional development firm that helps organizations drive growth through relationships. Earlier in his career, he was chief marketing officer at Deloitte Consulting and the youngest to be tapped for partner in the firm's history. Then, upon joining Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Ferrazzi was the youngest CMO in the Fortune 500. He also served as CEO of YaYa Media before founding Ferrazzi Greenlight.
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