Tip 1 – Become Part of the Grapevine
People love talking about what goes on within their work environment. The grapevine truly does exist in all companies. Assume the projects you manage are one part of that conversation, insert yourself into it and ask people what they are hearing about your projects. Is there any news from above? Are resources happy? Then, be sure to add your own facts into the mix. A little bit of accurate information never hurt anyone.
Tip 2 – Combat Negative Messages with Facts
Negative communication sometimes gets spun into a mile-long email thread. Inaccurate information and intensity of emotion continue to escalate the longer the email thread grows. The best antidote to negative communication is to get the facts out there as quickly as possible. Compose a thoughtful and precise “Reply All” with a handful of relevant facts to get everyone in sync. Then, kill the thread and take it offline.
Tip 3 – Stop the Bad Press
Most talk on the grapevine is harmless, primarily serving as an interesting diversion during a long day at work. People don’t really pay that much attention to it. However, innocuous gossip can turn into hurtful and malicious slander. You need to track down the source of that information immediately and make it stop. Find out why someone feels compelled to put forth such negative propaganda about your project and deal with it face-to-face.
Tip 4 – Fill the Vacuum
You may have projects that aren’t impacted by negative communication. However, you are left with a vacuum of communication. It’s up to you to fill this void with positive and factual information about your project. Send out pertinent emails, give appropriate updates at company meetings, and have one-off conversations. That way, people will really have something to talk about when your project gets tangled up in the grapevine.