Why We Need To Curb Our Innate Urge To Gossip

Darryl Bachmeier
Sep 7, 2019
Social


Have you ever found yourself in the midst of gossip? Being the target of gossip can be a harrowing experience, and we all recognise that. But when the arrow is not pointed at us, gossip doesn’t seem all that bad. In fact, it is quite pleasing or even exciting.

However, even when you are not the target of gossip, it could affect your life in more ways than you can imagine. So let’s try to understand how gossip works and set ourselves free from its invisible shackles.

What Exactly Is Gossiping?

Even though the word ‘gossip’ has negative connotations, it is actually a much broader term than we realise. To put it simply, gossiping is the act of discussing a person’s nature or traits in the absence of the person. It can be good or bad, depending on the intention of the people engaged in the discussion.

How Is Gossip Different From A Healthy Discussion Regarding Someone?

Regardless of whether the gossip is positive or negative, it has a single aim. Gossip is all about spreading relevant information in social circles. The listeners may not know the subject of the gossip too intimately to understand the context or nuances of the situation. This is why gossip can impact someone’s life drastically.

However, when a group gathers to discuss someone close to them with the intention to improve their life in a significant way, it counts as a healthy discussion. Let us assume that you have a cousin going through a financial crisis. You discuss the situation with your family to come up with a productive solution. This is a healthy discussion in which you have your cousin’s best interests at heart.

Why It Is So Difficult To Stop Gossiping

If you have realized that you gossip often, there is no need to judge yourself harshly. All of us have gossiped at some point in our lives, and it happens to be an important aspect of human nature.

Social scientists believe that gossiping is actually one of our primal tendencies aimed at survival. From ancient times, we have used communication to gather information about others.

This has helped us to understand our social scenario better: who could help us, who is probably working against us, who holds the most power, and so on. This is why refraining from gossip can be especially challenging.

Diverse Outcomes Of Gossiping

As we have already mentioned, gossip is not necessarily counterproductive. Depending on the social status and intentions of the group gossiping, the impact may vary. Let us try and group them into positive and negative to make things simpler.

Undeniable Benefits of Gossip

It may sound strange, but sometimes gossip can help us out. Here are a few ways in which we benefit from gossip:

  • Relieves Anxiety: When we gossip about someone who has been causing us a lot of trouble, it relieves anxiety and releases serotonin, the hormone associated with happiness. It also helps to bond with people who are facing the same problems.
  • Knowledge of Human Nature: Gossiping often helps us learn more about human nature and behaviour. This knowledge can eventually help us be a better judge of character.
  • Stops Unfair Practices: If a manager treats an employee badly, the news will spread and turn other employees against the manager. The fear of such an incident checks the actions of the people in power.
  • Peer Reviews: When we look for services such as babysitting, fitness training, or tutoring, gossiping can help us narrow down options. We can find out if the candidates we are considering have temper problems, addictions, or other issues that can hamper the quality of services.

Damaging Effects of Gossip

Sure, there is quite a bit to gain from gossiping. But most of the time, gossip causes more harm than good. Let’s see how gossip can harm us:

  • Damages Reputation: Gossip often neglects the assessment of a situation from different angles. Information is barely cross-checked, and judgement is made quickly. When the gossip circulates, it could permanently damage someone’s reputation and subject them to unnecessary harassment.
  • Affects Social Equations: Gossiping about someone can alter the listener’s perception of them. Even though the listener might have bonded well with the person under ordinary circumstances, listening to gossip will bring up a barrier between them.
  • Trust Issues: It might seem like you are earning validation from certain people by passing on information, but they might think of you as untrustworthy. And let’s face it, is there any guarantee that the people who readily gossip with you won’t gossip about you?
  • Stunts Personal Growth: Gossiping can quickly become an addiction. Over time, it will limit your ability to analyse situations thoroughly. When this happens, it will become progressively difficult for you to practice empathy and compassion.

Conclusion

There’s only one way out of the circle of gossip: self-awareness. You can try to watch your own behaviour and engage in healthy conversations. Before making remarks on anyone, you can ask yourself whether it is absolutely necessary. Most importantly, when someone comes to you with juicy information, you can gracefully steer the conversation in a better direction. We can guarantee that this will make your social life much more fruitful and pleasant.

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