This one gets a fair working over at home. It's one of my pet hates which probably adds to the sting. Gossip isn't conversation. Talking about other people behind their back isn't noble or useful (nor should it really be fun if we're being honest with ourselves). There's so many important issues out there that need serious discussion. Problems that need to be solved. Opportunities that need to be grasped. Talking about how this person did (or didn't) do such and such says a lot more about us than it does about the people we're talking about.
Now that said, what the heck has that got to do with marketing/branding/SEO/sales??? I promised that I'd tie these little tidbits in somehow so you could use them to make your business stronger or your people more effective. Well here's the takeaway, selling anything requires trust (especially if you plan to sell something expensive, or something to the same person over and over again). And there's nothing trustworthy about someone who sledges others behind their back.
I would always tell the salespeople I was training that (a) you can't build yourself up by tearing others down, and (b) when you're at a social gathering talking trash about someone who isn't in the room, the people listening will instinctively think two things. 1 - you're a coward, and 2 - I wonder what he/she says about me when I'm not around. So you're even eroding the confidence of the people in your inner circle (or at least your vicinity) - think about that and how that helps you when you're trying to sell them something, or more importantly, when they have a chance to put your name forward to a prospect.
I have the very same attitude when it comes to people who deliberately delay payment. They have no concept of karma. It might seem harmless enough, but to anyone who's had to chase money for a living, they know very well that it's no fun. At best it's an incredible waste of time that could be better utilised. And I can promise you that when an opportunity arises to put someone's name forward for a potential opportunity, people don't recommend people they don't trust, or who constantly stiff them for money. Sounds obvious enough doesn't it? But if it's obvious, why are so many people oblivious to the repercussions of their actions?
So if you want good luck, act like your mother is always watching you:) Pay your bills on time, don't talk about people behind their backs, give up your seat on the train to the elderly and hold the door open for people. It's the little things in life that can lead to big opportunities (and big misses).
Disclaimer: For anyone out there who thinks I'm preaching what I don't practice, I can tell you I'm the first person to admit I don't always get it right. But I, like my golf game, am a work in progress. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones (thanks Dick Feller - not kidding, that's the name of the guy who wrote it) and some days I get it mostly right, some days I get it horribly wrong. But I'm always trying to get it right. Hopefully that counts for something.