Here's the ugly truth. Gossiping tells more about the person gossiping, than it does about the person being talked about. Not only is it extremely hurtful to the person being spoken about, but it also shows that the person who is gossiping talks badly about other people and that they can't be trusted with personal and confidential information. People who gossip to you will also gossip about you. ~ Spanish Proverb.
So why do people do it? One reason we share things about others is to hot-wire a connection with a friend. The closeness in that friendship is built on talking bad about other people. Famous vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown, spoke about this on the Oprah Winfrey Show commenting that these types of friendships aren't true friendships because the intimacy that surrounds the relationship is built on hating the same people and this is counterfeit trust, not real trust. She instead referred to this as "common enemy intimacy".
We also find it easier to highlight other's problems to distract us from facing our own. It makes us feel better about ourselves because we get to revel in the fact that other people have problems too. This is especially gratifying when their problems are seen as more severe than our own.
Four Ways to Deal With Gossip:
1. Appreciate the difference between "helpful" and "gossip." There are times in life when it is genuinely helpful for you to know the personal background or personal details of a friend's life. But if someone begins sharing intimate details of another's life and you are in no position to help (or have no intention to help), it is not helpful speech. It is gossip. And will only lead to disaster.
2. Stop it before it starts. If your conversation begins to turn toward gossip, take the high road and end it. A simple sentence that goes like this, "I'm not sure I'm in a good position to be having this conversation," quickly shifts the focus to yourself while communicating your point to your partner.
3. Engage in meaningful conversations about the people around you. There is a 100% chance that you have not fully explored the deepest places of the heart and life sitting right in front of you. Rather than engaging in conversation about someone else, choose to ask deeper questions about the hopes, dreams, and fears of the people who are present.
4. Stay positive with your speech. Use positive words as much as possible - even when talking about another. Speaking positively about a person who is not present rarely leads to gossip and almost always leads to a closer ally. This positive speech will also encourage the people around you to do the same.
Have you given up gossip? If so, what happened as a result and how has your life changed?
What is it that makes you give in to gossip?
Have you ever been the victim of gossip? How did that affect you?