My last two blog posts compared the anchor and garbage grinder on the U.S.S. North Carolina battleship memorial1 to areas in our lives. This article addresses the scuttlebutt and how that applies today.
What is the scuttlebutt?
The picture above shows a scuttlebutt in the galley of the battleship North Carolina. In other words, it is the drinking fountain. However, the origins of the term date back to 1805.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term means, “cask of drinking water kept on a ship’s deck, having a hole (scuttle) cut in it for a cup or dipper,” from scuttle “opening in a ship’s deck.”2
Today’s scuttlebutt is the water cooler, coffee pot, firehouse kitchen, company breakroom, parking lot, etc.
What is scuttlebutt?
As the sailors gathered around the scuttlebutt they talked. As with any impromptu, small gatherings, the talk turned into tall tales and rumors. Therefore, the word scuttlebutt took on the meaning of the latest news, rumors, and gossip.
What is the scuttlebutt about scuttlebutt?
When two or more people are together, there is a probability that the conversation will lend itself to scuttlebutt. Is this good or bad? Yes, on both accounts depending on the dialogue taking place.
When people in the organization understand what is taking place to them and around them, the scuttlebutt can help explain policies, procedures, decisions, and a host of other topics.
However, when there is no communication or poor communication, the scuttlebutt will produce wild speculations and rumors, running through the organization like a wind-driven wildfire on a hot, summer day. The result is frustration, fear, and needless anxiety.
What can you do to control scuttlebutt?
The answer is simple: communicate with the people who work in your organization. However, implementing the answer is not always straightforward and depending on what information you desire to convey, the level of effort and method of communication will vary.
Next week, I will explore a few methods to control the scuttlebutt in your organization. Please take note that I said control, not eliminate, as the latter is nearly impossible to accomplish. In the meantime leave your thoughts below, email me at email@example.com, and visit my website at www.impactusleadership.com.