Dr Jozelle Miller
October 4, 2016
Highs and lows of gossip… Part 2

Some bad effects of gossiping:

  • Bad karma

One of the worst effects of gossip is that it will come back to you. If you’re spreading gossip about someone else, at the same time, someone can also gossip about you. Probably it’s the same people with whom you’re sharing gossip. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” That’s a cliché for a reason. You could think that you’re talking about something unimportant, but think about this: maybe the person you’re gossiping about think it’s very important.{{more}}

  • Gossiping isolates you

Without doubt gossiping will isolate you. Of course, people will continue to talk to you and you’ll still have friends; however, you’ll be known as the person who constantly gossips. Gossiping reflects badly on you, even if you don’t realize it. People may secretly resent you. Think about someone you know who gossips a lot. How do others feel about him or her?

  • No one will trust you

If you constantly gossips, people will stop trusting you at all. Again, friends will talk to you, but they could hesitate before telling you anything serious, especially if they know that you will gossip about it. Workmates and family members could also stop telling you anything they fear could become fodder for gossips.

  • You hurt others

Another bad effect of gossip is that you can hurt others. If you’ve ever been the object of gossip or false rumours, you know how harmful it is. You feel embarrassed, disgraced, and ashamed, even if you haven’t done anything to be ashamed of. The fact is that we gossip about people because they make different choices, or because they do things with which we don’t agree. Stop gossiping about people; put yourself in their place, and remember a time when you’ve been hurt by gossip.

  • You break promises

Have you ever told something that you promised not to talk about, just because it’s funny, odd or incredible? Many times I said that I’ll keep this in secret, and I promised not to tell to anyone, but I’ve always broken my promise. What about you? Gossip leads to broken promises, even if it’s not your goal. Very often we end up spreading gossip about someone very close to us, someone we really love, just because it makes a perfect story.

  • Gossip spreads lies

Very often gossip spreads lies. By gossiping about something and spreading the rumour along, you’re perpetuating those lies. Eventually it leads to many of the hurtful effects listed above. If you’ve ever been lied about and then watched the ensuing gossip spread like wildfire, you know how terrible it feels.

How to avoid being a gossiper?

If you think it’s time for you to decide you don’t want to have any part of gossip, here are some tips on how to do it:

1) Make a commitment 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.

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 gossip, 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 rumours.

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.

4) Think before you speak.

Before you repeat something you’ve heard about another person, think: Would it 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: ‘sticks 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.

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.