By P. Daniel Ward, MD, MS, FACS
In the multifaceted universe of plastic surgery—a realm where precision, aesthetics, and trust reign supreme—there’s an often-unseen malignancy that can swiftly deteriorate the harmonious balance: office gossip. While it might seem innocuous or even a form of “letting off steam,” gossip is far from benign.
The difference between light-hearted banter or constructive discussions and gossip can sometimes be subtle, but its effects are distinctly harmful. Renowned financial guru Dave Ramsey insightfully highlights the nature of gossip, defining it as conversing negatively about a situation or person with someone incapable of offering a solution. It’s a wildfire that can blaze through an office, eroding trust, sowing discord, and dampening spirits. Unlike a surgical complication that can be visibly diagnosed and addressed, gossip operates in the shadows, making its diagnosis and treatment even more challenging.
This isn’t just about hurt feelings or bruised egos. The implications of gossip on a professional level are far-reaching. It cultivates an environment where doubt and suspicion are the norms rather than exceptions. Simon Sinek, a visionary thought leader, emphasizes the tangible costs of such an environment. Distrust doesn’t just damage interpersonal relationships; it leads to tangible financial losses stemming from inefficiencies, increased staff turnover, and missed opportunities.
Awareness Is Key
In a field like plastic surgery, where the results are as visible as they can get, the unseen undercurrents of gossip can dramatically affect outcomes. Patients entrust us with not just their appearance but their self-worth and confidence. We cannot fully honor that trust if our environment is tainted by negativity.
So, how do we navigate these murky waters? Awareness is the first step. Equip your team with the ability to distinguish between harmless chatter and damaging gossip. Foster a culture where open dialogue is encouraged and issues are addressed head-on. If a team member has a concern or grievance, create avenues for them to voice it constructively.
Leadership plays a pivotal role here. Leaders are not just responsible for setting the strategic direction but also for shaping organizational culture. Leading by example, ensuring that you don’t engage in or entertain gossip, sets a precedent for the team.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Moreover, one of the most effective antidotes to gossip is transparent communication. A void in communication is often filled with speculation. By regularly updating your team about changes, decisions, or even challenges, you minimize the gaps that gossip thrives in. Transparency can act as the vaccine, preventing the spread of the “gossip virus.”
The world of plastic surgery is one of transformation and renewal. Let’s ensure that our internal environment mirrors the positive changes we aim to bring to our patients. The workspace should be a haven of respect, clarity, mutual growth, and most importantly, trust.
For a more in-depth exploration into the business of plastic surgery, the challenges we face, and the solutions that can guide us, reach out and connect with me. I’m available on Instagram @WardMD, TikTok @WardMD, and X @pdanielwardmd. For comprehensive resources and insights, be sure to visit www.wardinstitute.com.
P. Daniel Ward, MD, MS, FACS, is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and owner of Form Derm Spa in Salt Lake City.