5 reasons to avoid gossip and the people who spread it

Common reasons people gossip

Gossiping comes naturally for many of us. Just look at magazine covers, reality TV and celebrity bloggers. But gossip isn’t just about the famous. We may gossip ourselves to seek revenge when our boyfriend dumps us for someone else, to ingratiate ourselves to someone we want to impress, to help ourselves feel better when we’re intimidated by someone or even just to break boredom.

None of these reasons are good ones.

What is gossip

Consider the motives for gossip—jealousy, acceptance, gaining power. They almost always focus on lifting ourselves up by pushing others down. When you say things about others behind their back that are hurtful, derogatory and (usually) unconfirmed, it reflects on who you are.

But it also reflects on who you are when you uplift others and focus on the positive. If it’s a good reputation, respect or relationships you want, the best way to get it is to demonstrate through your behavior you are worthy of it.

5 ways gossip harms all involved

Most people don’t understand that when they gossip, they aren’t just hurting the object of their comments. They’re also hurting others and themselves.

#1 Gossip destroys friendships and divides people

By its very nature, gossip is adversarial. It pits the gossiper against the person being talked about and asks the listener to pick a side.

#2 Gossip degrades your character

While gossip aims to attack someone else’s character, spreading and perpetuating negative, unsubstantiated stories about people goes against each of the eight essentials in developing character: commitment, forgiveness, honesty, humility, kindness, patience, respect and selflessness. If you have a problem with someone, respect them enough to go directly to them, humbly and honestly. Listen patiently, and, if needed, forgive them.

#3 Gossip is harmful

The purpose of gossip is to tear a person down and erode their self-esteem. It’s in that state where people may begin experiencing mental health issues, such as eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety.

#4 Gossip ruins reputations, including yours

When you gossip, you’re telling your audience you are not one to be trusted: that you can be malicious and don’t mind spreading lies. It also tells people that you’re insecure. Keep in mind your audience likely recognizes that while you’re gossiping about someone else today, it could be them in that place tomorrow.

#5 Gossip takes time away from doing something awesome

Every minute spent gossiping represents a minute when you could be doing something kind for someone else or supporting a friend. It also represents a minute where you could be practicing honesty by shutting down speculation and lies.

Tips for avoiding gossip

Commit yourself now to avoiding gossip: both consuming it and sharing it. If someone begins to gossip with you, change the topic or speak up for the object of the gossip. You can also take steps to avoid people you know to be gossips.

And when you speak about others, first examine your motive. Ask yourself if the information you’re about share will do anyone any good. If it won’t, keep it to yourself.

If despite your best efforts you come across gossip, don’t judge the person being talked about. Remind yourself that people are probably talking about you too, and in the end, we’re all just doing our best.