How to start changing an unhealthy work environment | Glenn D. Rolfsen | TEDxOslo


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Ruy Lopes Pereira Imagine that you’ve just received
some negative information about me, just before this talk. Maybe he or she who’s with you today
has heard some rumors about me, some rumors about me being incompetent, being a liar, being a bragger, that I wear women’s underwear – (Laughter) How much do you think that would affect
your image of me right now? As a psychotherapist,
working with occupational health, I’ve met countless employees and leaders who are suffering from a toxic
and unhealthy working environment. They are struggling
because they’re lacking knowledge how to change the environment. They need outside help. I’ve tried to help them and failed,
times and times again. I’ve tried conflict resolutions, group discussions, individual interviews, leadership coaching, failing time and time again to change
this unhealthy working environment. So – Ten years ago, I started
a little investigation of my own. I was trying to figure out
why it is so hard to change, and I found out that a great number
of employees and leaders were talking negatively
about their colleagues when they were not present. Namely, backbiting. So, the definition of backbiting
is talking negatively about a third person who’s not present. I have a question for you all. Please raise your hand if you think backbiting takes place
at your workplace or place of study. Please raise your hand. Wow! OK. Thank you very much. It’s not exact, but I think
about 90% of you raised your hand. In ancient Greece, the great philosopher Socrates
met an acquaintance on the street, and the acquaintance said, “Hey, Socrates, have you heard
the latest news about your friend?” And Socrates says,
“No, but before you tell this news, I want you to pass a little test. It’s called the triple-filter test.” “The triple-filter test?”, he said. “OK.” “First question: what you’re going to tell me
about my friend, is it true?” “Oh, no. I just heard it. I don’t know.” “OK. You can still pass the test. The second question: is it anything good you’re going
to tell me about my friend?” “Oh, no. On the contrary,”
he said. “Nothing good.” “OK. You may still pass the test. The third question: what you’re going to tell me,
is it useful?” “Oh, no. It’s not useful.” “OK,” Socrates said. “First of all,
you don’t know if it’s true. Second, it’s nothing good. Third of all, it’s nothing useful. Why bother tell me?” Do you know who,
in our society today, that backbites? Yes. Women. (Laughter) It’s women. (Laughter) It’s another major group, as well. Namely, men. (Laughter) And why do we backbite? When I backbite, I’ve got this feeling of elevating myself,
while talking other people down. In an additional bonus, I seem interesting because I’ve got some
juicy information that you don’t have. This is how we, as adults,
are bullying each other. I have a second question for you. Please raise your hand
if you want to work in a place where there is no backbiting going on. No gossip. OK. Thank you very much. It’s interesting, right? How to get a permanent end to backbiting? I have done one genius thing in my life. (Laughter) I think this is it. I call it “Gossip 2016,” and this is how you can all apply it
in your workplace, if you want to. First of all, you gather a group. Perhaps, not as many as you are. Second of all,
you ask the first question: “Do you believe backbiting
takes place here?”, and they will raise their hand. Third, you need to define
what backbiting is. Use this triple-filter test.
It’s good, right? Fourth, ask the second question: “Would you like to work in a workplace
where there’s no backbiting?”, and they will raise their hand. Then, you get a good
old-fashioned flipboard, and you capitalize “Gossip 2016,” and you ask your group
if they want to join a project that will last for six months:
“No Backbiting Takes Place Here.” And they will sign.
This is what obligates them. After they sign it, you [put] this sheet
in a glass and frame, you put it on a wall
where everybody can see it, and every week, for next six months, you ask the group,
“How are we doing with Gossip 2016?” This may seem simple, maybe naive. Too good to be true, right? But it works! I know! And I have over – I don’t have, but it’s over 250 CEOs
in different companies that could verify this. It works. They could also tell you that absenteeism,
sick leave, goes down, and fractionation is minimized, and productivity is increasing. If you take this concept a bit further, you all heard about the discussions
about how young people and children are being bullied at school
and on social media. I think that I, as an adult,
[have] the responsibility to be a good role model. I have to stop talking negatively
about my uncle, about my neighbor, about my colleague,
about my mother-in-law, around the dinner table at home, because, if I don’t do that, I’m actually saying to my children
it’s OK to talk negatively about the third person that’s not there. New consciousness commits. Thank you for your attention. (Applause) (Cheers)

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