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Lisabob

when adult leaders gossip

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Grr. I went to a meeting last night and I was astounded at some of the things certain adults (!) were saying about fellow scouters who were not present. And as is usually the case when gossip gets going, the facts were mostly incorrect. It seems that this is motivated by jealousy over how quickly a few boys have advanced and the underlying assumption was that these scouts weren't "really" qualified, and that their dad must've signed off on all their requirements (which, having sat on their BORs and having been a mb counselor to them myself, I know to be false). Now the "quality of sign offs" issue has been something discussed among the adult leadership lately and there are some concerns there. But the concern has been that some SCOUTs are signing off on the lower ranks without sufficient attention to detail or quality - not that parents (or even siblings) are signing their children's books. To my eyes these gossiping ASMs might do better to work with the older/higher ranked scouts (in some cases, their own sons) to ensure that they understand and apply a common standard, rather than maligning a scouter whose boys have worked hard on their own.

 

So I did say to these guys, I think you need to make sure you have your facts straight before you criticize others. I don't think they were embarrassed though. Maybe I needed to be even more blunt? Keep in mind I'm the only woman in the group and this dynamic isn't in my favor with some of these guys. But this is bugging me. I'm going to spend time at summer camp with this same group of guys, also minus the main focus of their gossip, and I'm pretty sure this will come up again. So how would you respond in similar situations? Grr.

 

And who knows what they say about me when I'm not there!

 

Lisa'bob

 

 

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Grrr. How very unscoutlike and rude. I can think of several violations of the Scout Law occuring here: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Curteous, Kind, Cheerful, Brave, and Clean.

 

As SM, I would never permit that kind of behavior, be it the Scouts or the Adults. Our troop has had a few adult troublemakers, but we have managed to keep them quiet by continually emphasizing character and teamwork. I've done this by continually bringing up these themes during activities, and a lot of times it comes up in my Scoutmaster minutes. I also make a big point of it a Court of Honors.

 

I guess what I'm trying to point out, is that unless there is a particularly egregious incident, I deal with this kind of stuff not head on, but indirectly, by example.

 

See if you can do the Scoutmaster minute one night, or better yet, find one for your SM so he can do it. Find one that deals with gossip/character issues and the message will get across.

 

 

 

 

 

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We only have one problem gossiper (is that even a word?) in our troop. When she tries to gossip with me one on one, I immediately remind her that I won't listen to gossip. She does stop, but if she didn't then I would just walk away. When she is complaining about someone else to several leaders then I try to immediately point out the good things that the target leader has been doing, and I remind everyone that we are all volunteers and I go on to tell some of my mistakes... Sometimes this tactic works. Other times I need to be less subtle, and say, "Hey, let's be nice, we're scouts, after all!" I'm always tempted to point out the major mistakes that this woman has done, but I hold my tongue. There is no way we will ever get this woman to refrain from gossiping, all we can do is try to stop her each time she starts.

 

In your case, it will be trickier, since you are the lone woman. It sounds like you did the right things, but if it continues, then you should probably ask the Scoutmaster to address the issue.

 

Maybe try this Dear Abby message for a scoutmaster minute:

 

There is so much good in the worst of us

And so much bad in the best of us,

That it doesn't behoove any of us

to talk about the rest of us.

 

I brought a copy of this paragraph in to my teacher's lounge back when I was working and was tired of the gossip!

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People will talk. Your best defense is your own good character. I think everyone soon realizes who is trustworthy and who is not. We had a terrible gossip, very devisive in our group. Eventually, no one listened & he left. Drove the SM nuts for a while, poor guy. But the SM's good character won out.

 

Walking away, saying play nice, SM minute, or otherwise showing your disapproval is fine. You might shame them, that's about it.

 

firecrafter

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LisaBob. In my many years of working in a mans world, I have observed that in most cases men gossip as much, in not more than women.

 

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You have to make sure you differentiate between "lobbying" and "gossiping." When we go camping the adult leaders (usually myself the SM, the SAs and occasionally the CC) talk about the boys, each other and the "absent" adults in a jovial manner. Is that gossiping? I guess some could conscrue it as such. I jokingingly tell the leaders who don't attend the outings frequently that the majority of individuals who are discussed are not present.

 

Lisabob, what is your position? Are you signing off or an Advancement Chair? If not, don't concern yourself with the scuttlebutt. If you are, just do your part the best way you see fit.

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Lynda, that's what my husband told me too! So much for that particular gender stereotype.

 

Acco, I'm a committee member but not the advancement chair. I have been a mb counselor to the boys in question and I've been on their BORs. I voted, along with other committee members, to approve two of the boys' Eagle project proposals. So yes I have signed off. I've also worked on one boy's Eagle project where I saw first-hand how he demonstrated leadership. And it was most definitely gossip, not lobbying, going on here.

 

I know that there are always people like this and that just being a scouter is not a guarantee of good behavior. It still irks me though.

 

Lisa'bob

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My take on gossip is. If they want to gossip it is their thing. As long as I don't pass it along and take part in it. Now I have at times informed the person gossiping that their facts were wrong.

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I've seen similar situations - in this case, at a training event. The nature of this event lends itself to staff that are experienced, active and confident of themselves. Unfortunately, this also means that everybody has their own way of wanting to do things, and some people just couldn't handle compromising or defering to other staff. This lead to *nasty* conversations between various adult leaders regarding what other staff (both adult and *youth*). It ranged from criticism of plans and methods (which can often be valid and useful) to nasty ad hominem attacks. This all occured behind everyone's back, and solely for the purpose of degrading the other staff. At times I just wanted to say, "So go talk to [the person] and tell him what you think - you may have a point, but no one will take you seriously if you keep doing this!" I just couldn't understand why no one made any effort to politely and constructively communicate with the person they had a disagreement with - that way, it might actually get *solved*! But, I guess its just more fun for the ego to declare someone a stupid ****** just because they do things differently than you.

 

Sorry - looks like this kind of turned into a rant, but I needed to vent. It really amazes me that some "Scouters" place so little real value in the Scout Law that they ignore it when they think that they just know better.

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