Professional jealousy and backbiting in the workplace are emerging as alarming social diseases. Professional jealousy and backbiting are very common in the society. It may be termed as a severe social disease that sees many persons fall sick and suffer. This is an undesirable stigma that hits the good long-term relationship among the friends, co-workers, and even the family members or relatives. In a very natural way, it attains the state of intolerance gradually and finally, the relationship ends unpleasantly. When we talk about this issue in the family context, we see it is widespread among family members who do unnecessary criticism or engage in tough talks when they get together for gossiping. They generally make it for fun in the subconscious mind or are jealous of family members' wealth or good social status or their relatives. This type of gossip is none but slandering. It pollutes the family environment. The behavioural pattern of junior members over the seniors in the family changes, showing disrespect in behaviour. This often happens around us and is ignored by us in most cases. Jealousy is a natural behaviour of human beings since the ancient time of the genesis of humanity. Still, backbiting is the revelation of slandering or negative gossips, which exposes someone's despicable behaviour. Slandering in the workplace that often appears is a bad habit, indicating not a sign of a good human being who always speaks like that.
On the other hand, very few employees of the organizations who feel they have been victims of slander are unwilling to go for legal action due to fear of losing jobs and being socially degraded. A good number of studies [conducted by M Kong, 2018; M Alfano 2017] have been done in the USA on the negative effect of workplace gossip on employees. According to the studies, it is found that negative buzz or slandering exists anywhere people live, mainly occurs in the corporate offices/group works or educational institutions where modern and educated people work together. The study reveals about 66% of general conversation between employees is linked to social topics concerning talk about negativity of other colleagues. Evaluating negative gossips is triggered by some peculiar criterion and mentioning the lousy quality of persons, as saying "he is lazy and rude with others," "She has the ugliest haircut," "He limps," "She is black," "He is too fat," etc.
Some scholars believe that negative workplace gossip amounts to social undermining of employees and such a kind of gossip makes it difficult for them to trust others or establish a good cooperative relationship. Most of the time, it results in significant side effects to employees, lowering work efficiency and job satisfaction.
In the context of organisational working environment in Bangladesh, this issue is significant. Still, it is yet to address, and hardly a few studies appear to be done till now. In the workplace, in most cases, the women are the victims of backbiting and professional jealousy. When a woman makes a good performance in her workplace and establishes herself in a dignified position, other colleagues cannot accept it easily. They start speaking ill. It even sometimes becomes offensive using derogatory words against others. While discussing with the university's academicians, it is known that slandering and professional jealously are alarmingly increasing and also hampering the relationship among the department's colleagues. When an article of joint work is published in the names of several co-authors, sometimes it begets a conflict among them when someone of the group claims the name as co-author on a priority list. In case of failure to achieve it, the person becomes hostile to others. However, everyone knows that the contribution of that complainant to the article was not so significant. Due to this conflict, those who mostly worked hard feel humiliated, resentful and become demotivated to join work. As a result, it disturbs the mental peace of other co-authors, impacting family life and working environment. Sometimes professional jealously goes to that dangerous level when slandering is directed at physical matters. Many working women in Bangladesh have had this bad experience in most organisations.
On the other hand, it is apparent that there are always a few employees in the organisation who possess low calibre and cannot perform well or produce quality works in their organisations. This type of persons are intelligent in talking and appearance, but not in completing the job. In most cases, they are not cordial to accept the good performers of the organisation. So, being frustrated and jealous, they start negatively gossiping about those good performers in different ways and a disrespectful manner. This is one of the significant reasons why slandering is rising in the work places of the country.
Nowadays, social media has been another vibrant and fast-spreading source of backbiting and slandering. Social media is now the most powerful public platform, where millions see negative gossip of viewers in a minute. It makes a surge of backlash comments instantly by many viewers. When happening, it harshly affects the daily activity of the victim's family as the people surrounding them show negativity in their behaviour. Many persons are using social media as a weapon against his/her counterpart to demean them. Such an act is making many persons socially humiliated in the wrong way. The number of such types of activity increases fast in social media. Islam in general strictly prohibits backbiting and slandering. Allah forbids these acts, saying that "the backbiter eats the flesh of his dead brother." Backbiting is a great sin, which is unforgivable. Backbiting is widely spreading among the masses that is becoming an issue to be taken care of for establishing a good social environment for the people. People who indulge in backbiting not only reveal their imperfections but also harm others. Most of the time, people seemingly engage in slandering or backbiting in the subconscious mind. Therefore, such an oblivious attitude should be avoided by awakening conscience in people. So, everyone needs to be careful to refrain from this bad habit. In Bangladesh, the organisations can think of it with importance and go for awareness building and counseling. They can make the employees understand the evil sides of slandering in the social and organisational environment. The organisation can effectively disseminate the lesson to the employees to educate their family members, friends, and relatives about it and build awareness. Initially starting from the family, we should welcome this campaign to make a harmless, benevolent, and dignified human society.
Md. Ziauddin Iqbal is Senior General Manager of PKSF
Email: [email protected]