It can be healthy sometimes to share and converse with your work peers, but when it starts hurting other people then it becomes a problem. In this episode, host Erin Saxton catches up with her old work friend, TV executive Patrick Ignozzi. This time around, they discuss workplace gossip, work friendships, and why most people get fired on a Friday.
Listen to the podcast here:
Erin Talks to Patrick Ignozzi About Work Friends And Getting Fired
I have with me, Patrick Ignozzi. He and I have been co-workers and good friends for many years. He and I were producers at The View together and I was there for about a year. He joined the team and I showed him how to do Barbara’s blue cards and we’ve been best friends ever since.
Those blue cards were certainly addictive. I think we owe our relationship to the blue cards and people know that they’re blue.
Tell everybody what blue cards are.
The blue cards are but 5×7, 5×5, 3×5 maybe. It depends on what size. I think they were the 5x7s we used. They’re pale blue.
This is like a 3×5. Who could read that?
It’s 5×7 and I will say that those cards were the introduction to a friendship.
It’s true because you had to do it a certain way and the way we needed to do it was the Barbara way, which is cool. We typed them up on the computer and we’d print out on a regular sheet of paper, hot glue and then stick them on to the blue card in the beginning.
That was circa 1998 and that went on until circa 2004, if my memory is correct, then you got a computer system where you can put the cards into the printer. It would print out the entire thing like it was on a piece of paper, but on the card, which is lovely. That’s our history of getting to know each other.
It was this big thing. When you started, you had to do the blue cards. If you didn’t, you were dead.
You wanted to make it clear because as you know, talent reads off of those and the facts have to be right. The questions have to be precise. The bullets have to have what they should have on there. You can have a decent conversation or at least a proper, correct conversation.
No one did our blue cards for this segment with us.
We don’t need to, we’re pros. Plus, we wing it. That’s the fun part about doing this with your friend. I never get out to New Jersey, so it’s good to be back.
I love that you got out to New Jersey because you reside in Manhattan.
I do. I live on the Upper East Side and Los Angeles, but I’m a nomad.
One of the things that I thought we would talk about is whenever you’re here, I like to pick topics and I like to have that old school host Chatfield. Our topic on this episode is gossip. Fifty-two minutes a day, they say, we all gossip. Do you think men are gossiping as much as women?
I think men are doing it in different places. I don’t think they’re necessarily always doing it in the workplace. They’re doing it with their buddies on the phone, in the car on the weekends. If you’re going by gender, I definitely think men do it just as much as women.There is some type of healthy gossip where people are communicating. Click To Tweet
What do men gossip about?
I think it depends. Lots of men talk about relationships. They’ll talk about their kids. They’ll talk about other guys or other people that they’re competitive with. I also think that gossip is part of our daily routine. I remember when I was younger and a lot of the females in my family would go to the beauty salons or what have you and getting their hair cut. That was the meeting place for people to find out what was going on in town. If you’re in a larger city, you’re talking more about what’s on TV or what did you watch last night or talking about other people’s relationships, like celebrities in the news. If you’re in a small town or maybe even more isolated areas of where we are here in New Jersey, that you’re talking about people on your street, on Main Street or on Elm Street. It varies from your geography and where you are. It’s interesting that gossip can destroy and kill.
I’m smiling because you brought up small towns and you brought up hair salons. I love anything about Pope Francis. He’s cool. He looked at there was a group of 230 beauticians and he said, “Please refrain from gossiping.” He took this topic on.
Avoid the temptation of gossip.
Give it up for Lent.
We’re out of Lent. Does that mean after Lent that you can go back to gossiping? I’m curious about it.
I know. People are eating the donuts and they’re drinking the beer that they gave up. You have to give it up or you have to give it up for Lent. I don’t know.
That’s a good question, but yes, I was a little concerned about that.
I’m positive Pope Francis reads this blog. I follow him on Instagram. He’s fun. He makes me interested in things now. I’m not overly religious.
He’s relatable and I think whatever religion you are and it’s open to everyone. All the leaders of all the religions, as long as they’re promoting a good, healthy lifestyle and we all respect each other, then that’s a fine religion. I’m not here to judge any religion, nor you, but he’s an interesting progressive type of Pope that we’ve ever seen in our life.
He makes me lean in.
This was what I loved is that I never heard of anybody in that authority or at least a pulpit or in the cleric use the words that gossipers are like terrorists and you should refrain from that because that’s like you have a bad tongue. I remember hearing that some people have negative tongues and I used to think, “I know people do talk about people and then it’s always going to be prevalent and it’s always going to be part of our lifestyle.” The question is, what is good gossip? What’s bad gossip? I think we all know the difference between the two. We don’t need to sit here and dissect that, but there is some type of healthy gossip where people are communicating. I know at one point we talked about socialization and people feeling lonely. Is gossip helping people connect in a way? When is it too far? When it hurts people, it destroys them or what have you. We all agree here and it shouldn’t be anyone’s intention to do that. I do think that there is a certain standard that we have to follow when it comes to it, but everybody does it. I wonder if there’s a gossip gene. When I was reading this story, I thought, “Is there a gossip gene that people have that they can’t control themselves to do that?”
They can’t help themselves. It’s like a glandular issue.
Look at all the gossip shows that are on television. Some of them I’ve worked on and consulted on. I will tell you that the first thing I do in the morning, which I know I shouldn’t, but I think 90% of us do, we check our phones. I look at all the alerts that have come in of all the places I follow and all the stories that resonate. Mostly entertainment and certainly some hard news stories, but they have a slant of gossip in them. I do think that we are attracted to it. I wonder if we’re inclined to that because of our interest in it and do we look for something to talk about or to fantasize about? Certainly, other people’s problems somewhat keep us or stop us thinking about our own problems.
I think other people’s problems make us feel great about our own.
You’re right. You feel like, “That could never happen to me.”
Thank God I don’t have it that bad. I don’t know if then because you feel that, I don’t know if I would go in and gossip. I hate hearing that somebody’s talking about somebody else or when I hear all those talking about you.
It’s fine with me. No, it can hurt. We all are. You know what made me interested in this topic was the mayor of Manila of the Philippines. Have you ever been to Manila?
I’ve never been either. I know people that have gone backpacking there or gone hiking in the Philippines, but I have never been, but I hear it’s beautiful.
They have a word for gossip, chismis.
What’s interesting about chismis is that if you are caught gossiping, you are fined in the Philippines. That hasn’t come here to the United States. In a small village in Manila that you basically can be fined and depending on what you’ve said, you can be fined to community service. I think you have to pick up garbage or pick up litter. It’s illegal. It’s a crime.
Chismising is bad.
Why do you think it’s gone that far? Are we working against freedom of speech? This isn’t America, this is the Philippines.
Who’s the chismis police?
It’s the local officials.
Are they walking around with their bully sticks? Do you look like you’re talking about something?
They have to hear it firsthand. I think things have gotten out of control there that they’re talking about people’s money, their property. It’s causing such riffs and such turmoil that it’s causing people anxiety, probably fights, probably a lot of violence. I want to know like, “How deep are words?” Words can be dangerous. It’s not like you’re shooting someone, but your words could be considered an assault.
Look on social media, the gossip. Is it gossip or is it when you’re talking about somebody blatantly on social media? I don’t even think that’s gossip anymore. I think that is slander. We’re not going there. I guess we did.
Talking about somebody, is gossip saying, “I saw that person wear that pair of jeans and they’re way too tight for them. They shouldn’t be wearing that?” Is that considered gossip? Is that considered a bad thing to say? Did you ever like all the clothes I’ve ever worn? I know you didn’t like them, but I wouldn’t consider that a crime.
If I tell people about how much you paid for those shoes, what you spend on shoes.
Are you talking about me personally or in general? That’s true but that’s not gossip. I think that’s an opinion.Our words could be considered a verbal assault, as evident in social media. Click To Tweet
If I took that information and I was like, “What’s the most expensive pair of shoes you’ve ever bought?”
I can’t recall. A couple of hundred dollars, $400, $500 maybe.
Let’s say that you didn’t have any money to eat and you weren’t eating, but you took your money and you bought shoes and I go around telling everybody that. That you haven’t been able to pay your bills, which I’m making all of this up.
You are, but I have gone on eating peanut butter for breakfast and dinners.
You used to bring in cans of salmon to the show or tuna fish.
Salmon was a little too expensive at the time.
Honestly, we’ve had rough days.
I get that.
I never did eggs because they could break on the way to the office.
I’m saying that if you were choosing to do that, that’s a jumping-off point for a gossip. One might innocently say, “Did you check out Patrick’s new shoes? They’re like $800.” The next person then goes, “I thought he couldn’t pay his rent.”
I would need intervention. What I loved about this story was interesting what they said, the quote I wrote down was, “Burning gossip is our way of quality of life.” I wonder if we did not gossip at all in our lives, would that better our lives? Would we feel much more at peace? Would we get along better with folks? Would the workplace be of a happier environment? Would we progress? Would we become financially more stable? How would that change our lives, basically or the look of our lives?
I would like to think that we are a society then that’s not as neurotic. Think of the neuroses, think of all the things that we do to be proactively combative against what might be being said about us.
First of all, we have to define what gossip is, number one and number two is, would we lose a lot of the conversation that we have to make with people?
You’d lose maybe that self-deprecating humor or rapport. There’s nothing worse than somebody who is presenting a buffet of like a delicious meal of gossip. I love doing this too. This is what I do. They’ll say something and I’ll reply back, “How do you know that?” “I just know.” I ask a follow-up and I’m like, “Since you’re in the know.” I’m not fighting with them. You realize if you push back on somebody who’s gossiping and you’re making them own what they’re saying, then suddenly they become a little more aware of it. I’m not saying I never gossip. I totally gossip. I don’t think we can help it.
Are you guilty of chismis?
I’m guilty of chismis.
I’m calling the Manila police. I have friends in the Philippines and I’m going to call them.
I want to be called Ms. Chismis.
You bring up a good point. When you find out someone is gossiping about you and someone that you respected and liked or if it’s someone you work with or you work for, that hurts. I think that many people can relate to that. I feel like you lose a sense of respect, but also you might believe the gossip too that someone is saying and it might stay with you. You might carry that burden around. For those people that are reading, I think that the lesson to that is it’s such a simple statement. Would you say something about someone that you wouldn’t want to be said about you? You have to ask yourself that and then say to yourself, “Is this something that I would be comfortable saying?” There is simple gossip and then there is detrimental gossip.
The parts that bother me are when people are speaking in a mean way about them. I don’t know if that’s gossip then. There could be a factual statement. For me, I always thought gossip was hearsay. It wasn’t factual or it wasn’t proven either way.
It’s mostly out of fear. People say it. 99% psychologists will tell you. I’ve interviewed many psychologists, sociologists over the years and it’s all about fear. Insecurity and fear can cause people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. You have to analyze what that is and how exactly you feel about something. There are ways of saying it, but I don’t think it’s ever going to stop. I think the real question is what if a law came to the United States, your local town or in the workplace, can you be fired for gossiping? Can you get a ticket like you would get a car ticket for illegally parking somewhere?
Can you imagine the gossip court? They’d have traffic court one night and chismis court. Why don’t you produce that, gossip court? Wouldn’t it be fun?
It would be fun but then what’s the penalty? How do you prove to somewhere in a court of law that, first of all, unless you have them on tape or audio saying it?
That’s what I mean. Who are the gossip police? It’s hearsay. It’s he said, she said.
In the Philippines, they don’t go into detail of how they’re finding these people, but obviously it’s either firsthand accounts or they’re hearing it from other people who have firsthand knowledge. Now, we have so much equipment there that you could videotape anything or audiotape anybody.
I find that it’s steps. We’ve talked about other things where I’m shocked at the steps we take as a society. I don’t want there to be gossip. I’m Pollyanna. My friends make fun of me. I love love. I want everyone to be happy, healthy and be friendly.
Are you still living the world through rose-colored glasses?
They’re not even rose anymore. They’re just light.
I thought we had this conversation.
They’re a deeper shade of hope. It’s funny, though, that we’re going to make these changes in something like that and we’re still doing awful things in other regards.
If we were to pass a law here about it, then what would happen to some of the best shows on television? Like the Page Sixes of the world, the TMZs of the world, Inside Edition or all these shows that are on television. Even the court shows, although that’s more criminal, I guess, and more, and civil. What would happen to all of that? That’s gossip.Avoid the temptation of gossip. Click To Tweet
It is gossip. The court shows to me, that’s not gossip because the person is there. In New Jersey, in New York, in this New England-y area, the thing is around here, we don’t gossip as much as we say it to your face. I don’t know if that’s gossip. It’s maybe combative or argumentative but down South, that scene from Steel Magnolias. I think it was Dolly Parton, she had a seat next to her and she’s like, “If you have nothing nice to say, you sit right here.” To me, that’s the poster child for gossip. “Did you hear? Don’t say I said anything.”
I had a friend that we both know, I won’t mention her name, but she worked with us years ago. She was smart and I never forgot this. We walked into our meeting and the person walked into her office and she said, “If you’re bringing gossip in the office, don’t bring it in here. Leave the office.” I never forgot about it. I remember it and I thought to myself, “That’s such a powerful statement.” She was confident in her viewpoints and her ways that she didn’t want to have any of the negativity in her space or hear about it. It’s a good lesson to think about. It’s sometimes hard to live that. That’s all. I think that’s where people have to figure it out.
I’m still giggling a little bit about the Pope because 230 hairstylists went to Rome, Catholic. I’m thinking, “How do they all find each other? Is there a Catholic Beautician Society of America?” It is lovely, but you’re all together and let’s go to Rome and let’s get schooled on our oldest thing that happens even in the barbers.
Let me say this. I go to the same place to get my haircut on 2nd Avenue in New York City. I know the lady. Even when I live out West, I wait to go back to her or we find someone else, but nobody talks. They say, “What do you do for a living? Good. Are you married? Are you single?” this and that. That’s it. I keep my head down, I’m looking at my phone. I’m not there to talk about anybody. I don’t know anybody in the salon. Honestly, I will tell you that I don’t have any conversations. Am I getting pedicures and manicures? No. Am I in there getting highlights? No. I don’t color my hair. I’m not there for a long period of time. I want a fifteen-minute haircut. Also, I love it when they turn the sideburns, it’s great and also the back of your hair too. They do that but that is it. There’s no time to talk about anything.
What are guys gossiping about?
The topics that they’re gossiping about?
I want to know. Be real with me.
It’s more of a conversation. They’re talking specifically about other people’s wives maybe or stuff like that or females that they may work within the workplace. Maybe that could be a topic as well.
Do you guys talk about other guys?
Sure, money, cars they drive and weight. Guys talk about weight issues.
They’ll be like, “Did you see Joe? He’s got a nice ass.” What do they say?
They’ll say, “Joe’s tacked on about 40 pounds.”
Joe had lipo?
These days, it’s pretty common with men.
“Did you hear Joe has Botox?” Guys, hair plugs, Botox.
I just read Kevin Costner is getting hair plugs.
That’s gossip. Don’t bring your gossip in to me.
What’s wrong with saying someone got hair plugs?
Is it true?
I don’t know. It was in the paper but it doesn’t mean it’s true.
It must be true.
It could be and if it is, good for him, I guess.
I don’t know if it’s true.
I don’t know if it is either. I don’t know if I believe everything I read anymore. I don’t think I do. I think that that’s an interesting concept though but men do talk about other things. That’s where the dilemma is. What can you talk about and what can’t you talk about?
I don’t think we’re able to talk about anything. You can’t touch anyone. You can’t shake their hand, as we talked in the past. You can’t flirt. There are a billion reasons why that’s a good idea and a billion reasons why it’s sad.
I’d like to see in twenty years and we’ll be retired from everything so we don’t have to worry about it if we’re still hopefully alive and healthy. The question is, what do you think the workplace is going to look like then? What do you think the world is going to look like in twenty years? Do you ever think about that?
I think about the future a lot. I always wonder because I never thought we’d be in the places we are now in the world, but maybe you didn’t think enough about it back then. That’s an interesting thing to see where we’ll be and how we’re going to be talking to each other.
I think of it for Eric’s sake, my son, but I don’t think of it for manners or society. I do think about we’d be nice to each other, but I don’t think about, “Will we be gossiping or will we have eliminated the handshake?” I also wasn’t thinking like, “Will smoking indoors be banned?” There are things that are coming up that are pleasantly awesome.
It’s banned in a lot of places. Do you know my first internship? You were allowed to smoke in the office. This is how long ago it was. This was like 1989, 1990. You were still allowed to smoke in an office. I remember from 4:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, there were clouds of smoke. Have you ever gotten to bingo with your family and everybody smoked at the bingo and you came home and your hair stunk of there or you went to a bar when you were allowed to smoke in bars? I have such thick hair or I did. I remember coming home and having to take a shower because I smelled like an ashtray. I remember the first internship, seeing the cloud of smoke over the office and it was a big room with 40 desks and you got to see that cloud of smoke every day. Can you imagine?
Do you remember smoking in an airplane?
Yes, one time on an international flight.Gossip is not a crime. It is a part of people's DNA. Click To Tweet
I love, “Do you want the smoking or non-smoking section?” You’re on an airplane.
I was flying to the Middle East one summer. It was July of 1994 and I was heading to Israel and to Greece. I remember somehow my ticket got screwed up and I got stuck with two guys in the smoking section in the back of the plane, in the middle seat and it was awful. Both were smoking the entire flight. It was an overnight international flight. Can you imagine? They had banned it on domestic flights but not on international flights. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that they did that.
It doesn’t even make sense. Because you would think the longer flights they’d say no, but they were doing it because you were so addicted to nicotine that you couldn’t go that long.
It was terrible. I remember that vividly and I’m thinking, “That ruined the entire experience for me, even though I wanted to sleep,” because it was an overnight flight. How do we get on that?
Things being banned and I know because I brought up the restaurants and now we’re banning gossip. Let’s make some twenty-year predictions.
What’s going to happen in twenty years? I don’t want any hurricanes. That’s what I don’t want. I don’t want hurricanes to wipe out places and lands. That’s what I worry about. That’s in my fear of now is what I’m thinking. Positive, you give me your top three. I’ll put you on the spot.
I say in twenty years we will have cleaner air. We won’t have as much pollution.
You’re talking about the air, I’m hoping in twenty years that we’ve eliminated all of the debris from the oceans around the world. That kills me when I see that footage around the world and you see the debris. I remember once I was in Hawaii, we were in Hawaii for a couple of days or 1.5 weeks or so. I remember being in Kauai, this isolated part of the island and there was a Tide bottle that was on the sand. I thought in Hawaii, in a place that you think is so prestigious, remote and clean. It was my first time there. When I saw the Tide bottle, no offense to Tide, but I’m saying that was the eye-opener to me. That was Hawaii. It’s the United States, but it’s far from the United States. It’s like being in Alaska and finding Poland Spring bottle go up or even a glass jar.
It would be more interesting to find out where it originated. In a perfect world, your horrific story is a little hut on the hill and the Tide bottle rolled down and fell there and you then saw it the next day.
The Tide bottle came from another part of the United States that was illegally dumped or maybe somewhere around the world. Somehow through the bodies of water that goes through the entire world, basically landed up there. That’s what I wonder about.
It’s a sadder version and probably more the truth.
The oceans to me are important. First of all, world peace would be the best that ever could happen. Wouldn’t that be great? That I think is the key. We can all dream. We could try to get there.
If we didn’t gossip, maybe we would have world peace.
I’m not convinced gossip is a crime. It’s a gene. More people do it. That bottom line is you’re going to give me the quick bullet points of our discussion. I think gossip is part of people’s DNA. If you want to gossip about someone, you’re going to do it. The thing is, why do we do it and is there a way to stop doing it or modifying it?
I think like everything, moderation is the key. I love cheeseburgers in moderation, chismis and cheeseburgers. Thanks for coming by.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you. We’ve got to learn a little bit more about the gossip. If the Pope is talking about it, I think it’s something for us to consider.
I think if we all in moderation try to be a little better, a little nicer, then we’ll be in a better place.
It’s good advice to this day. Thank you, Erin.
About Patrick Ignozzi
PATRICK MICHAEL IGNOZZI VICE PRESIDENT, Current Television, Development and Syndication, ABC Television Network
Patrick as of 2016 serves as Vice President of Development and Syndication for the ABC Daytime Media Group. He also serves as Vice President of Current programming for “THE CHEW” and “WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE”.
He was the Senior Producer for ABC Daytime’s highly successful live talk and Emmy Award winning entertainment program “The View,” currently in its 17th season on The ABC Television Network. He held that position for 16 years.
Patrick also served as the Supervising Producer for “The View” and won the 2002 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Producing for “The View”. He has also produced several highly rated segments for “The View,” which earned him his sixteenth Daytime Emmy Award nomination, along with his fellow producers, for “Outstanding Talk Show.”
Before joining ABC, Patrick held the position of Producer for King World Productions and was both traveling booker and researcher for NBC’s “Today.”
Patrick is a graduate of Seton Hall University, holds a B.A. in Criminal Law and a minor in Spanish Literature.