Why and how to stop gossip?

Two women having a conversation and laughing about something.
Why do we find gossip so intriguing? For one thing, humans are social creatures. In other words, people are interested in people. It is only natural, then, that sooner or later our conversation will veer toward the latest goings-on in the lives of friends and acquaintances."

Therefore, nothing grabs our attention more quickly than the words, “Have you heard the latest?” What follows those words may be fact or fiction—or perhaps a little of each.

Is this bad? Not always. Quite often, informal conversation provides useful information, such as who is getting married, who just had a baby, and who is sick.

However, it is a fact that human creatures are quicker to criticize than commend. Why do we tend to tell the bad and be mum about the good?

Do we take the good for granted, accepting it as proper without comment?

Do we single out the bad because we feel irritation or even righteous indignation about it? This may be true in some instances. Is it a matter of commenting on extremes that grabs our attention?

 We comment on the good if it is outstanding and on the bad if it is extreme.

However, gossip is more often petty, focusing on trivial matters. So apparently more is involved than extremes that catch our notice, or trespasses serious enough to make us righteously indignant.

Humans are social creatures, naturally banding together in communities. They like to communicate with one another and there is a strong tendency to tell others what we have just learned.

To know something another does not and to relieve ourselves of the inform makes us feel wise.

The danger is that this information is usually in rumor form and rumors frequently turn out to be lies.

According to the slander and libel laws of many countries, one who repeats an untrue derogatory statement is as liable for lawsuit as the originator of it.

The rumor-spreader may be quoting from the public press, or from a letter, or what he heard firsthand, and he may give his source; but if it is a lie he can be sued and he cannot shift responsibility to his original source.

After all, if only the starter of a rumor uttered it, it would die at its birth. It is the widespread publicity given by grapevine that does the damage.

Clearly, then, there are good reasons to guard against harmful gossip and slander. Yet, how can harmful gossip be crushed?

Stopping gossip


To see gossip for what it is can helps us stop it from going out of our mouth. It is cowardly talk and a goodly percentage of it is harmful talk.

To say behind the back what one fears to say to the face is cowardly. We should not shoot others in the back with words.

Do you object to the accused one’s hearing the accusation? Are you not willing to give him a chance to defend himself, to tell his side, to clarify matters, to spike a rumor or refute a falsehood?

How can he if you do not face him?Are you being fair and honest with your fellow human being? When you start to say something about someone ask yourself, am I willing to say this to his face?

If it is gossip you will probably answer no, and if you are a gossiper you will probably say it anyway. You may swear the one you tell to secrecy.

And can you rightly complain? You could not keep the secret yourself. Why expect another to? Why expect more of another than of yourself?

Keeping quiet was too great a strain for you. Why expect another to resist the strain you could not?

Moreover, he may like the person you slander and may want to give the person a chance to defend himself. That is only fair.

So when you start to gossip, think how you will feel when your victim hears it, probably in an exaggerated version. Let this thought help hold your tongue.

But what if someone gossips about us? Cannot we fight back in self-defense? Yes we can, but with truth not gossip.

When you gossip you help at most no one and you hurt at least three: the one you talk about, the one you talk to, and yourself. The same is true when you listen to gossip. You hurt the same three.

What is a sure way that you can crush gossip? Refuse to listen to it. The gossiper wants your ears. Do not lend him your ears. He will only fill them with dirt.

And you may be tempted to spread the dirt to other ears. Help him and protect yourself by not listening. When you give ear to gossip you are not an innocent bystander

Always remember this: a gossiper is not a true friend. If he gossips to you he will gossip about you. By gossiping he may nudge you toward gossiping, thereby pumping you, and “when he goes out, he tells it abroad.”

This is sly hypocrisy. But a gossiper does not need to have two heads to be two-faced. He will gossip to whomever he is with, because it is an entrenched habit that controls him.

For our own protection it would be wise to break association with a chronic gossip.

Since a true friend is a trusted confidant, we should also be sure that our friend is not the sort who would gossip about us, to our harm.

Conclusion


Keep your lips in check. It is said that great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about things, and small minds talk about people.

So before saying something about another person, ask yourself: ‘Do I really know the facts? Will what I say cause my listener to think less of the person I am talking about?'

If so, what is my motive in saying it? Remember this: The fact that something is true does not in itself justify spreading it—especially if the information will harm someone’s reputation.

Share this post with your social networks: