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Interpersonal Edge: Celebrity gossip learning opportunity

Tribune Content Agency logo Tribune Content Agency 3/28/2021 Dr. Daneen Skube, Tribune Content Agency
a group of people sitting at a picnic table: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit for an interview with Oprah Winfrey. © TNS Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Q: Everyone in my workplace is talking about the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview with Oprah. Since none of this has any impact on work productivity I fail to understand co-workers waste time gossiping about people they don’t even know. Why do people become fascinated with these stories, why does the media obsess, and why does it get brought into the workplace?

a person looking at the camera: Dr. Daneen Skube. © Provided by Tribune Content Agency Dr. Daneen Skube.

A: The reason people in the workplace become obsessed with stories like Meghan and Harry leaving the monarchy is because the story is a metaphor or symbol for larger social change. In discussing the story the media and people are attempting to work out the social issues that the story represents.

As we emerge from the pandemic globally many people have shifted values and priorities. Issues like racism, sexism, mental health and the vast power institutions have over our well-being are in the spotlight. The Markle controversy is front page because her experience contains all these issues in one person’s story.

People do not just want to gossip they want to understand social influences that affect their lives. We are not returning to the workplace or world we left behind in early 2020. We’re returning to a workplace where all the issues in the Markle story are on the front burner.

How do we create workplaces, unlike the monarchy, where diversity is welcome, where we address our mental health issues, and where we can discuss and improve the unhealthy influences of institutions?

Many people that find tradition comforting will see these conversations as a betrayal of the old guard. Even if we challenge the old guard with diplomacy, with transparency and with respect the status quo tends to fight back if real change is threatened.

As you listen to your co-workers gossiping listen not just to the story but to each person’s interpretation of the story. Who defends the status quo, who finds inconvenient truths upsetting, who finds the promise of a better status quo intriguing? People around us reveal themselves not just in what they talk about but in how they talk about it.

The story of Markle challenges each of us to think about the way we sometimes participate in our own downfall. How it can take extreme suffering to get us to speak out and leave the status quo. Moreover, how frightening it is to end up in a position where challenging the status quo, with all the backlash, is the only healthy option you have.

Now when you read the news tomorrow notice what the media (and our society) is obsessing about lately. Realize these stories are simply symbols of issues many of us are trying to figure out. Let these stories challenge you to think broadly about our nation, our society, and your workplace. The growing pains of a rapidly changing world are never without drama and the drama is playing out in the lives of those we obsess about in and out of the workplace.

The last word(s)

Q: I heard the term “vaccine euphoria” the other day. I haven’t had my shot yet and wondered do people really feel euphoric after getting both their shots?

A: Yes, most of my colleagues and clients that are fully vaccinated experience a huge mental health boost. The vaccine gives each of us the power to avoid death and permanent disability (at least from the virus) and that is really good for our emotional health!

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)

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