Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard

Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com



Insights on business, and practical ways to improve your own.

Printer Version


Practical ways to minimize the damage.

by Kate (July, 2003)

(Note: "Kate" is a mid-level manager of a craft company.)

Do you have a green thumb or a brown one? Do your plants thrive or wilt? In most cases people with brown thumbs hang their heads in shame when conversations revolve around the latest triumphs of the garden. There is a time, however, when the brown thumbs can hold their heads high, proud of their inability to keep something alive. That is when they resist the urge to participate in the survival or growth of the company grapevine.

This urge to be included is very hard to ignore. In an office environment, many people value themselves based upon the information that is given to them, more than on the quality of the job they do. Unfortunately, the value is not realized until the information has been passed on to others. After all, unless someone knows the extent of the confidential information given to you, how can they put a value on you?

Do you remember when adults would have us kids play the game of Telephone? It was always interesting to see how a simple question, "Do turtles have necks?" whispered from one child to the next, could evolve into "I saw two turtles necking under a tree."

There are many explanations for this transformation. Only certain words were heard; the message was misinterpreted; or the softly spoken message wasn't heard clearly. Another explanation: the information was deliberately embellished or exaggerated.

Is it any wonder that an off-the-cuff comment about a slow month in shipping can end up with employees updating their resumes because the company is days from filing bankruptcy?

How can employers put a stop to the grapevine? The simple truth is that one person cannot stop it. Memos, meetings, and emails that direct staff members to kill grapevines instead only act like fertilizer, increasing the size and negative effects of the vine.

There are some steps that can be taken but they will only work over a period of time and with constant reinforcement.

1. The most important step in stopping the grapevine misinformation is effective communication. This is not restricted to your telling, but also to your listening. As a manager or supervisor, you need to pass on complete information and at the same time, encourage your staff to come directly to you with any questions or concerns. When they do talk with you, listen to what they have to say and do your best to thoroughly answer any questions without divulging anything that is not for public knowledge.

2. Be aware of who is within earshot when you're talking with others. Don't hesitate to pause your conversation and move it to a more private area. Remember that others may only be hearing select phrases or words and will be tempted to pass this information on after filling in the blanks themselves.

3. Don't be afraid to question the information given to you in a "Did you hear what so and so said?" format. Recently I've begun asking these people if they were told this information directly by the person in question, and if the information does not involve their area within the company, why they are passing on information that has nothing to do with them or their job?

Needless to say, these people have walked away in a huff and have added my comments to the grapevine gossip. Though the grapevine still makes a presence in my office, it is with much less frequency than before.

4. Finally, if you have been given confidential information, someone has determined that you need to know it and can be trusted with it. Do you really want to jeopardize that trust? As hard as it may be to keep the information to yourself, remember to ask yourself if the sharing of that information is more beneficial to your overall career than keeping it quiet. When a co-worker knows you have a juicy tidbit, give them evasive answers to their prodding questions. If tactful evasion doesn't work, firmly let those inquiring minds know that you're not in a position to share the information. Then don't share it.

The reality of the business world is that no matter how hard we try to avoid them, grapevines are one of the most active and detrimental aspects of a company. They often contain misinformation, and always succeed in creating tension, low morale, and reduced productivity. As one frustrated manager was overheard saying, "If products moved through our system as quickly as (mis)information moves through our grapevine, we'd all be retired millionaires right now."

Note: Have any comments on this or other columns of Kate's? Any topics you'd like Kate to tackle? Email Kate directly at katescollagecln@aol.com.



horizontal rule

horizontal rule


Kate's Recent Columns...
HOW A RETAILER CAN HELP A VENDOR CREATE A PRODUCT; Product testing with store customer.

MY VISIT TO SOUTH KOREA; Crafts in a war zone?

A PERSONAL VIEW OF SCHOOL TRAGEDIES; The Newtown Massacre brought back memories.

MEMORIES OF 9/11; A proud but humbling experience.

THE AMERICAN DREAM, UPDATED; Something achieved, something lost: the end of a hard, but wonderful era.


WHAT HALLOWEEN CHARACTERS DO YOU HAVE AT WORK? They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

BOB AND DARWIN; Reprinted from the May 15, 1986 edition of Profitable Craft Merchandising.

EXCERPT: YOU DID WHAT IN THE DITCH? FOLKLORE OF THE AMERICAN QUILTER; An edited version of the author's preface.

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN; Chapter One from a hot new comedy/mystery novel.

WHERE AND HOW DO WE PERCEIVE BEAUTY? Are we open to unexpected wonder?

THE DUNCAN FAMILY; Winner of CHA's Special Recognition award.


MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE POST-50 GENERATION; These are modern...conveniences?

CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE THAT WILL COME SOON; In fact, they're already happening.

WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER; Reprinted by permission by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright, 2010.

PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS; Are you ready for the worst?

CRAFT THERAPY COULD INJECT A HEALTHIER BOTTOM LINE; A website that shows how crafts are good for consumers' health, and good for business.

WORKING IN A HOME OFFICE; Benefits, problems, and tips learned the hard way.

INDUSTRY VETERANS KEEP WRITING; Short stories, romance and mystery novels, and reference books.

MOTHER'S DAY SPENDING; Less than last year, but...


LESS SPENDING, MORE CRAFTING; The recession offers a wonderful opportunity for our industry.

A TRIBUTE TO DAVID CUNNINGHAM; Wise words for a remarkable man.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CRAFTING; Research could open the door to better health for consumers, better sales for the industry.

EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS; Another example of unintended consequences.

SO, WHAT IS EBITDA? A hypothetical example of how it's determined and what it does - and doesn't - mean.

USING YARN TO IMPROVE THE WORLD; Knitting scarves for the Special Olympics and raising funds for the Rwanda Knits project.

WALNUT HOLLOW: AN INDUSTRY AND CONSERVATION LEADER; The company went "green" long before it was popular.

THE FUTURE OF MAKIN'S USA; Changes and improvements are in the works.


CHINA'S DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF CHINA-US RELATIONSHIP; The Chinese ambassador's address to the Peoria (IL) Rotary Club.


MEMORIES OF BILL MANGELSEN; With lessons for all importers, businesses, and people.

RWANDA KITS UPDATE; Making a difference, changing lives.

LAST MINUTE CHA SHOW PRODUCT INFO; So many products, so little time.

WHY I SCRAPBOOK; So much more than photos and stickers.

ARE SCRAPBOOKERS CRAZY? Contests, validating lives, and more.

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE ZONE; Safe, relieved, and thankful.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE 2015 RETAILING ENVIRONMENT; Shifting demographics, household downsizing, and new marketing present industry challenges.

SOME THOUGHTS ON GLOBALIZATION; A PARADIGM REVOLUTION: The Big eating the Small is now the Fast eating the Slow.

THE CRAFT FUR DUCK; The old image of crafts needs changing.

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. III; "We are on the edge of losing touch with our consumers."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. II; "We cannot...run companies for stockholders only or look for the one item that will last forever..."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY; "I still believe that accurate trend prediction is the most important driver for profits for companies..."

BEADING SMILES; Helping with sick kids through crafts.

THE WORST TRADE SHOW EVER; Why CHA is no longer in Chicago in winter.

ACCOUNTING FOR GIFT CARDS...Can mess up the books.

HOLIDAY EATING ADVICE; How to stay happy, if not healthy, during the holidays.

NRF'S TOP 10 TIPS FOR SMART HOLIDAY SHOPPING; What consumers are being told on getting the best deals from retailers.

THE MICHAELS SALE AND OCTOBER RETAILS RESULTS; The CLN Newsbrief emailed to subscribers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROFESSIONAL CRAFTERS? SOME ANSWERS; Lack of access to supplies, inept show managers, and more.

A BEGINNING (AND END) FOR SOME ... Why do some consumers stop crafting and other become lifelong enthusiasts?

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME? Public exposure of a private life can be misleading, dangerous, and bad for business.

CLN NEWSBRIEFS: August sales and Michaels quarterly report and conference call.

CLN NEWSBRIEF: JO-ANN'S; The quarterly report and the conference call.

CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL; Play golf, quilt, knit, scrap, stamp, paint - all for good causes.

IN DEFENSE OF PAPER; Technology has its place, but...


LITTLE WHITE LIES; Embellishing your resume can catch up to you.

THE DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION; The best our painters have to offer.

LETTERS TO CLN; Rag Shops, younger consumers, tough times for designers, and more.

BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE = LOYAL RETAILERS; 10 ways vendors can improve their relations with retailers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PCP's; The savvy Professional Craft Producers have evolved.

PRIVATE CHARITY OR PUBLIC TAXES? Will the scalawags get rich and the poor remain poor?

HOW YOU CAN HELP KATRINA'S VICTIMS; Practical, concrete suggestions.

CHURCH BULLETINS; Typos that allegedly appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

SCRAPBOOKING A SENTIMENTAL EXPERIENCE; An example of why scrapbooking is so popular.

ANATOMY OF A PRODUCT PRESS RELEASE; What should be in it, how to write it, and a model.

EXCERPT: THE HEALING POWER OF CRAFTS; Using your hobbies to gain mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.

HOW TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN; It's up to you to mean what you say.

ENCOURAGING BRIGHT IDEAS; Debunking myths about your staff's creativity.

SICK DAYS -- AND COMMON SENSE; Working when you're sick sets a bad example in more ways than you think.

THE ART OF COMPROMISE; It's an essential tool for the mid-level manager.

KNOWING YOUR LIMITATIONS; Thinking of trying a new category, such as scrapbooking? Answer these questions first.

PROGRESS? IF YOU SAY SO.; Are craft stores losing their identity.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; Simple acts make a big difference.

FOSTERING CREATIVITY; The care and feeding of artists is a tricky business.

DIRECTIONAL SIGNALS, WHO'S TALKING, WHO'S LISTENING; How to avoid communication snafus.

WANNA JOIN A CLUB?; Not this one, please?

GRAPVINES: STOPPING OFFICE GOSSIP; Practical ways to minimize the damage.

EMAIL: THE UPS AND DOWNS; We can't live without it but we're paying a price.

LONG TERM SATISFACTION: Easy to cheapen products, but at what cost to your reputation?

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: WHY BOTHER?; Because it's not only fair, it's good business, too.