Why Do People Gossip?
It's been said, knowledge is power. Unfortunately, many people like to spread damaging information or intimate details about others, whether true or not. This is what is called gossip. It used to be that people called gossip, dishing the dirt. Whatever it's called, people use gossip to hurt people, in order to feel good about themselves and to feel like they have power over others.
Gossip Destroys Reputations
If you know something juicy someone did over the weekend, it's easy to feel like you have to tell others. We especially like it when we hear something that makes someone look bad. Celebrity bloggers and gossip magazines make millions of dollars off of this unfortunate reality. I'm sure you have encountered gossip. Some people seem to thrive on it.
It’s time for you to decide you don’t want to have any part of it. The most dangerous part about gossip is that it steals another person's reputation. A reputation is very fragile. When you gossip, you are helping to destroy something extremely valuable. An anonymous blogger wrote: After telling my best friend, it leaked that I tried [cutting] once. Everyone thought I was even more of a freak.
Stop the Gossip
If it’s time for you to commit to no longer have any part of gossip, here are 5 tips on how to do it:
1. Make an intentional decision you’re not going to gossip.
Even though the temptation to gossip is powerful, you will always win when you choose not to use it. And really, with all gossip, there’s no way of knowing for sure what is true or not. Paul wrote: I admit that I love spreading rumors. It’s all about telling lies about someone you don’t like. It usually works. That’s the problem, it does work, almost every time. The most dangerous part about gossip is that it steals another person’s reputation.
2. Don’t listen to others when they gossip.
Gossip grows an audience. You simply being there listening to it adds to its appeal. If someone starts to tell you something gossipy, say, I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about this person when they’re not here to defend themselves. Not only will you break the gossip chain, but you also will gain the trust of other people, as someone who won’t spread rumors. With all gossip, there's no way of knowing what is truth or lies.
3. Don’t judge people based on gossip.
If you should hear gossip about someone you don’t know, you have two choices: allow the gossip to determine what you believe, or let your own personal experience determine what you think. The first time you have an experience with someone that is contrary to the gossip you’ve heard, you’ll be a lot more careful about spreading or believing gossip the next time you hear it.
Katy wrote: My best friend is someone who people used to say really bad things about. But once I got to know her, I learned the truth about her. I'm so glad I gave her a chance.
4.Think before you speak.
Before you repeat something you've heard about another person, think: does this really do any good for me to spread this information? Or am I just trying to be in the know? Is the information even true? Could I be hurting someone by telling this, even if it's true? If the person you are talking to is not part of the problem, or part of the solution, there's no need to tell them anything.
5. Stay away from people who gossip to you they will gossip about you.
Don’t associate with people who find such great joy in belittling others. Be very careful about what you choose to tell these people. If it’s a close friend, you might consider saying how you want to stop spreading gossip, and that you’d really like her help.
There's an old saying, stick and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That's not true. Being gossiped about can be extremely painful. If you don't want it done to you, don't do it to others. In the end, it never pays to gossip.
I really appreciated this comment from Jolene: I love how Dawson tells how gossip really hurts. Other blog sites just gossip, this one tells us how hurtful it can be. I am so glad that Dawson is down-to-earth.
For more help with gossip and reputation, I wrote these two blogs: How to Rebuild a Bad Reputation and Protecting Your Online Reputation.
Photo Credit: Ben White