There is a lot of power within language and our words can create instant reactions. Today, very few terms create a more emotional response than the term “fake news”. With this buzz, there are some insights from the current political climate that can be used for your organization.

Whether you think that Trump is the greatest President ever or the worst of all time, we guarantee you are easily finding evidence to support your story. This is how “fake news” happens. If I write a story about how Donald Trump is an alien, there are people who will latch on to and even share the story. This gives my story some measure of credibility. If you think I’m exaggerating, google it.

The same thing can happen inside an organization, but instead of coming in the form of blog articles or social media posts, it comes in the form of rumors and gossip. The rumors might be about coworkers or bosses. The problem is that rumors and gossip, while often based in some form of truth, aren’t completely true. Worse yet, they tend to feed a belief that people already hold, and those beliefs may not be helpful for the team.

This is why toxic employees are so damaging to a team. They become a major source of rumors and gossip, and the stories they tell support their original conclusion – a conclusion that is misaligned from the company. When other employees hear these stories, they will oftentimes do one of two things – start to believe them and become toxic themselves or leave your company because they don’t want that negativity in their work environment. In fact, a recent study showed that good employee are 54% more likely to quit if they have a toxic employee on their team.

The best way to combat this is to address it head on. When you hear stories that aren’t completely true, make sure you challenge them. When an employee becomes toxic, talk to them right away and see if you can help them to become realigned. This starts with listening and ends with a conviction that you will no longer allow rumors and gossip to sidetrack your team.

There is not much we can do about fake news on the internet, but you can take some simple steps to stem the tide of fake news inside of your organization.