Know a gossip?
Usually a face or a name comes to mind, said Dr. Gary Redding to a crowd of mostly 30-somethings at the January Business-by-the-Book luncheon.
Dr. Redding, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta, zeroed in on gossip in the workplace, what it is, and why and how to stop it. His audience listened attentively.
The audience members, about 150 people, each took an hour away from work to go to the church for barbecue, networking and a Scripture lesson tailored to businesspeople.
"In every workplace -- regardless of the number of the employees -- there usually tends to be one person who is more negative, louder, more critical," he said.
Gossipping is wrong, even if the statement is true, he said. "Sometimes you justify things you repeat to others by saying it is the truth."
But the point is -- did it need to be said or did the listener need to know? Dr. Redding asked his audience as they sat quietly wrestling with the question.
At 12:50 p.m., he closed the session with a prayer. The men and women pushed their chairs away and said hurried goodbyes. The fellowship hall and then the parking lot emptied quickly.
Business-by-the-Book, started nine years ago by Dr. Redding with about 30 people, meets at 11:50 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month, except July and August.
"I look forward to going each month," said Patricia Ingle, a luncheon regular for seven years. She is branch manager of Wachovia Bank and a member of Sweetwater Baptist Church, both in North Augusta. "It is a refreshing midday break."
Dr. Redding said he pulls his topics for the sessions from the news. When the group meets Thursday, the topic will be "Why smart people do dumb things."
Each month, an Augusta media personality opens with a humorous wrapup of the day's news events, followed by live entertainment, typically a vocalist.
"It's a good gathering of local businesspeople, where you can mix and mingle and exchange ideas plus get a good thought for the week," said Steve McElmurray, owner of Parks Pharmacy in North Augusta and a member of the church.
"There is a real sense of community," said Arthur Shealy, an attorney and a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in North Augusta. He recommended the luncheons to anyone who wanted a good break in the day. "Every time I go I pick up a little pearl."
The luncheon offers a chance for fledgling entrepreneurs to make contacts. "We always introduce new businesspeople," said Dr. Redding.
"It's a little boost in the arm when you are dealing with the public every day," said Mr. McElmurray.
Who: Dr. Gary Redding
When: 11:50 a.m. Thursday
Where: First Baptist Church of North Augusta, 602 Georgia Ave.
Cost: $5, reservations required by noon Tuesday. Call 279-6370.