Nothing has a more negative impact than gossip and fiction in my life. Throughout all my years, I could not find one positive example for one of them. For example, gossiping is considered a bad habit. We do not like that people talk about us behind our backs. It is a nasty feeling. Because obviously, we cannot defend ourselves due to our absence. And fiction is even worse. Believing in non-existing things sounds bizarre, awkward, and quite crazy. Why do people even believe in any kind of God? However, gossip and fiction are tools that helped us to be the most domestic creature on this planet. Based on this theory, I will bring up facts about why gossip and fiction are important for a company.
What we can learn from our ancestors…
Today we look up at the stars and wonder if we’re alone in the universe. We show in fantasy and science fiction movies what it might be like to meet other intelligent species, like us, but not us. Instead of looking up, we should look back in history. Because we already met intelligent species on our earth. I am talking about our extinct brothers and sisters. The Neanderthals lived in the cold era of Europe. The related Denisovans who inhabited Asia and many other human species who once walked on our earth. 300,000 years ago full nine species of humans once walked on earth at the same time. But now, there is only one. The Homo Sapiens.
But how did we survived in that prehistoric competition against our siblings? And more importantly, why the fuck should we care about this? Because all humans on earth are homo sapiens. When we understand how homo sapiens think, behave, and communicate, we will have a huge advantage. Most of all our motivation to achieve something can be traced back to the past. What we want today is identical to the needs of prehistoric homo sapiens. We all want a high status in society. The modern homo sapiens seek it in a higher career position, voluntary work, or fame. But so did the prehistoric homo sapiens. They want to be the best hunter to get a higher status. A high status means bigger access to resources. Food, luxury, partners.
If we understand the reason why people act in a specific way, we know how to deal with them. And as a consequence, how to manipulate them. Regarding this, I will explain why and how gossiping and fiction is the most important ability we mastered.
How gossip makes us successful
We are not the first ones who learned to communicate. Because many species can do it, too. Mammals, insects, and fish can communicate effectively. Whales can talk over long distances using different frequencies of sound. Bees can tell other bee’s food locations using special dances inside the hive. I am pretty sure there are more unique communication styles. However, the information transmission of animals is limited. The language of the animals can only tell the location of food, potential predator, or scare rivals. And there is the difference. When an ape can only shout: ‘Be careful! There is a lion!’
Homo sapiens can tell the daily life of this lion. For example, ‘The lion walks alongside the river, every time the sun is at its peak’. With this information, the homo sapiens can gang up and beat up the lion.
With more information, a group of individuals can perform better with each other. In our case to beat the lion, when should the operation start? Who will be the decoy? What weapon should we use? Who will make the decisive blow? Such a high level of strategy for the prehistoric homo sapiens is quite difficult. Planning and executing should be the least difficult part. The crucial question is, who can I trust?
Here comes the role of gossip. The language of ours developed further because of gossiping. We want to know who hates whom, who sleeps with whom, who is honest, and who is cheating. The sole purpose of gossiping is to build and seeking trust. The stronger the bond of trust the better the performance of the group. Back in our history, it was crucial for surviving. And today, it is still important for a group of friends or colleagues. We are social creatures who need another. Gossip is important for a company because, without it, we would work less effectively. Instead, it helps us to cooperate much more effectively against rivals for food and territory.
How making fiction is key to world domination
Gossiping is a great way to build up trust. The downside, it is only effective for up to 150 individuals. Beyond these numbers, gossiping has almost no effect. The second crucial ability we developed, is to transmit information about things that do not exist. We can talk about entities that we cannot see, touch, or smell. This is unique about the language of the homo sapiens. For example, we cannot convince an ape that if he sacrifices a banana by smashing it, the monkey god will reward him later. Furthermore, fiction like this is can be dangerous and misleading. Why did so many homo sapiens believe in so many fiction figures instead of doing something meaningful? Why waste their time praying to the local spirit instead of looking for food?
Because fiction does not only enable us to believe in non-existing things but to do so together. A common belief can make homo sapiens work with strangers. Let me take it to modern time.
Fiction makes us fight each other or work with each other
In 2006, I watched the soccer quarterfinals between Germany and Argentina. It was my first time watching a soccer game with teammates and strangers. A group of middle-aged men sat next to my teammates and me. Here comes the beautiful thing. Both of our groups celebrate the victory of the German soccer team. Imagine me, a 15-year-old, shy, Asian guy, celebrated, laughed, and cheered together with the middle-aged men. In daily life, I would have no reason to celebrate with them, let alone talk. But, nationalism glued us, strangers, together.
Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.
Yuval Noah Harari
Any kind of large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city, or a prehistoric tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination. States are rooted in common national myths. The middle-aged men in the soccer game example would risk their lives for us, teenagers, because we both believed in the existence of Germany as a nation, as a homeland, and the German flag. Also, two Christians who never met before would work together to build a church because both believed in the common religious myth.
Some people may still laugh at ‘primitive’ rituals and beliefs of tribes who still exist in our modern times. But, are they different from us? Like these tribes and our homo sapiens ancestors we still believed in non-existent things. Are money, laws, and human rights nothing else than a belief? They did not exist outside a human’s mind. We, homo sapiens, do not differ that much from each other.
Why gossip and fiction are important for a company
I hope I could explain to you that basically, we all are the same. We can adapt this knowledge for our career or relationship with others. As leaders, you need to learn the basic function of how humans interact with each other. Gossip and believing in myths are fundamental.
Why gossip is important for a company
Gossiping, bad or good, is a tool to increase cooperation with each other. As a manager, you need to find out who works well with whom. Erase the theory that your teacher once told you that we have to work together. Even when they hate each other. No, you do not. In particular, big and important projects that will bring the company far ahead, cannot be taken lightly. These tips are most effective in small groups of 5-10 people.
- Find out who is the leader of the group -> By leader I mean, the person who has the highest social status in your brigade. Also, it does not have to be the one with the best skills.
- Manipulate the leader to work for you -> Understand what this person wants and reward him with that. Once he is on your side, the group is on your side
- Find out who is isolated. -> Boost this person’s image by positive gossip. Once you tell others of the group that you can trust him, he will perform much better.
- Socialize with them. -> Even as the boss, you have to be part of the gossip chain. People will gossip over you. There will be no way around it. Use it to your advantage and become a positive reason they can gossip.
Why is the slogan the immortality of companies?
Creating myths is suited for a long-term goal. Imagine if you want to own a company. Then creating a myth, in this case, a slogan is essential. For example, Apple’s founder Steve Jobs is deceased for 9 years now. If he would be the reason that people work for, Apple would be closed now. But it does not. Why? Because Steve Jobs give his employees a belief, a belief in his products.
We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
CEO of Apple – Tim Cook
A human can die and vanish forever. But his belief can stay on earth eternally. This is a philosophy, also a fiction, that people put trust in. Employees or customers are not different. They are still loyal, not to Steve Jobs or Tim Cook, but in the apple what it represents. It is such an easy but effective way.
When you are starting your company. Define what your company stands for and live this statement. Once you ignite people’s hearts with this, your legacy will stay for a long time.
Summary – Why gossip and fiction is important for a company
Now you understand why gossip and fiction are important for a company. By understanding the importance of them you can imagine what you have to do to be a great leader. Remember that people gossip to build trust for better cooperation. And believing in the same things can move people’s hearts.
Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
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