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Digital gossip - different, but more important - by guest writer Zsuzsanna Szvetelszky, PhD.

Two years ago, corporate communications started to change, and by today it has changed significantly. The change has affected not only meetings or executive briefings, which have moved to the online space in significant proportions, but also digital gossip.

Digital gossip existed in the past: when a manager in a meeting would convince colleagues that a new project was exciting and would be useful in the long term, many would immediately email or text each other saying what a stupid thing to do - while they seemed to be busy taking notes on their laptops.

How is digital gossip different now, by 2022? Basically three things: different scale, different impact and different characteristics. It is much higher than it was before, as official communication has more or less moved online. Those who have been forced into a home office have generally learned to use chat rooms and social media spaces for information communication rather than the corridor and the tea room - even if they didn't before. And you can text each other during a videoconference just as you used to, or even on the phone in the case of a split screen: people are lively and will innovate if circumstances force them to.

The impact has also changed. Mostly because we only see each other in the space of the home or on the screen without a mask, we have become serious: humanity has been experiencing a global smile break for many months. And the situation is serious: the last month of the long winter is not over yet. Digital gossip, for example, has become a recreational way of injecting smiles into each other's daily lives, whether on the phone, on the screen or just with emojis: these signals are not well tolerated by official correspondence. But how funny, for example, when the boss stays on and you can hear his partner telling him off for something...

Digital gossip is also harder to control: offline, it was easy to see when two people were talking close together, even leaning together, in the smoking room or dining room. In the online space there are many more hidden corners, it's easier to remain invisible.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, is credited with the saying, "It's not worth making mistakes if you don't learn from them." The learning curve has intensified in the past year, as we have had to master new tools of cooperation overnight. So we have to learn, as employees and managers: not only about how to install a new app, but also about new aspects of the corporate communication culture.

Because in the workplace, we don't just work.

By guest writer

Zsuzsanna Szvetelszky,PhD.

Social psychologist

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