The ancient philosopher Aristotle said Horror vacui, or “Nature abhors a vacuum.” His point was that if a vacuum exists in the physical world, it is only momentary, as it immediately fills with the material surrounding it, without any regard as to what the substance is. It doesn’t matter if the neighbouring material is similar, or of the needed quality, or even if it is suitable for the purpose, it immediately moves to fill the vacuum. The same principle is at work in organizations, specifically to do with communication and more specifically, the organization’s rumour mill. In fact, I wrote about using the company grapevine to your advantage in one of my regular columns in The Globe and Mail, back in March 2015!
Just as nature abhors a vacuum, people in organizations also abhor vacuums … in information. When there is a lack of knowledge – about people, about processes, about upcoming plans and changes – information, accurate or not, immediately moves in to fill the vacuum. And ironically, the larger the vacuum, the more incorrect and outlandish is what moves in to fill it.
Managing the rumour mill
Which leads me to the point of this article. The best way to combat rumours, misinformation, and the general distortions and fabrications that seem to take hold in just about every organization is to continually and deliberately offer correct, quality information to fill the void. Even if it is incomplete! Continue reading