Lets talk about gossip

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Let’s Talk About Gossip

By Simon Mott

Topic at one glance:

  • What’s the dynamic behind gossiping and at what point does one cross that fine line?

  • Why is gossip so harmful that it can potentially kill – and what does that have to do with addiction recovery?

  • Tips how to deal with gossip proactively

Loose Lips Sink Ships - GossipModern research indicates that people who gossip generally have very high levels of anxiety and anger, the gossip can be a defense mechanism to relieve their anxiety. They often feel isolated, threatened and lonely so see gossiping as a quick fix. However, engaging in gossip makes them unpopular because they cannot be trusted. So it’s a vicious cycle: Remember the spreading of private information or negative judgments is harmful to one’s self and other people, thus can reflect badly on the gossiper.

What Is Gossip?

  • Talking about anyone who is not present to the conversation.

  • Gossiping is a form of passive aggressive behaviour designed to harm someone.

  • Conversations or reports about other persons, typically involving details that may not be confirmed as true.

  • Gossip can be a form of stealing. Especially if false it is stealing their good character. If true, it’s taking away their right to privacy and ownership and a fair hearing.

  • Chinese whispers are the most harmful but start with gossip.

  • Gossip is usually derogatory conversation and can involve betraying a confidence and spreading sensitive information or hurtful judgments in revenge.

  • A rumor is a piece of information gathered informally that is unsubstantiated then deliberately perpetuated as gossip.

  • Schadenfreude: a Freudian term (German language for ‘joy from harm’) means the pleasure gained from the misfortunes of others.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Gossiping Is Human Nature But Can Be A Negative Habit

At what point do you cross that fine line?

No one is immune to gossiping, and most of us have talked about someone who has not been in the room at that moment, and we have also all been the subject of gossip. Talking about others is a natural pastime for many of us. It can be fun, and it livens up conversations.

Two or more people often can form a strong bond when sharing a dislike for someone or something else. May be they consciously or unconsciously believe that revealing something negative about someone else will make them look and feel better. Titillation and excitement are triggered by gossiping or making jokes at the expense of others misfortune. Anger and resentment towards someone will be relieved.

Gossip And Rumors In Recovery From Addiction And Alcohol

At most AA and NA meetings they will read the following warning: what you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here. Anonymity and confidentiality are the spiritual foundation of all groups, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

 

Gossip can lead to relapse and relapse can, and does kill.

Most importantly gossip can be hurtful amongst recovering addicts and alcoholics because the communities are specially formed to provide support. Relationships in recovery are extremely important for our continual nurturing and development.

Trust is paramount; this is partly why honesty and integrity in recovery are vital to our survival.

Why Is Gossip Harmful?

Gossip can badly damage trust and faith. If some shares a sensitive piece of information they hear or think they know, this can be cruel – remember there is a right and wrong way to do things.

Why Do People Engage In Harmful Gossip?

  • To have what feels like harmless fun or even a fun way to connect with friends

  • Participating in gossip is a good way to distract oneself from oneself

  • It keeps us from working on the issues of our own

  • If we focus on what others are doing wrong, we feel better about ourself

  • People often Gossip with so-called good intentions

  • Use gossip in the guise of being helping

  • Self-righteous gossiping is a false boost to one’s ego

  • Promotes the belittling of other people

  • Can ignite rumors that can misrepresent someone

  • A way to hurts others, “hurt people hurt people.”

  • A way to be divisive or too cause trouble

  • A form of sabotage of a perceived threat

  • A form of industrial sabotage in business

  • Harmless chit-chat that pumps a little excitement out of boredom

  • Gossip is a judgmental acting out

Facebook has built a business on human nature’s obsession with other people – which can go both ways!

It is a strange fact that people are more interested in others live than there own

More Forms Of Gossip

  • So called idle gossip, “over the garden fence”

  • Celebrities gossip; Gossip column seem more popular than ever – Gossip magazines are everywhere in every language

  • The rumor mill is a political for of gossip

  • Recruiting similar opinions to back up your agenda

  • Building a case in your own mind by soliciting other peoples negative view or someone of a situation

  • It can also be a form of propaganda which is the spreading of true or false information to support your cause, however the information is most often exaggerated.

  • Black PR is industrial sabotage – deliberately harming a competitor

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself,

is it true?

is it necessary?

is it kind?”

— The Buddha

What To Do About Gossip If It Is Targeted At Someone You Care About Or Not?

First, define what gossip is for you, then with a clear mind go through the points listed below.

  • Empathize with the subject of the gossip.

  • Put yourself in that person’s shoe.

  • Have a boundary like “if the person is not there to hear you say it.”

  • Never disclose someone’s personal issues.

  • Don’t participate when your friends start talking about others.

  • Change the subject.

  • Say positive or helpful caring things.

  • Think about how the other person might feel knowing you are talking about them.

  • Don’t talk about others behind their back.

  • Imagining how you would feel if someone was talking about you.

  • Focus on being more positive in conversations generally.

  • Remember the bigger person and don’t make others feel small.

How To Deal With The Gossip Proactively

  • Educate yourself about the harm of gossip.

  • Address the specific perpetrators.

  • Stop negative gossip on a personal level by directly challenging the subject matter.

  • Helps to address the key gossipers one-on-one.

  • Encourage constructive and positive talk.

  • Model the behavior you want to see.

  • Think before you speak about another person.

  • Ask yourself:

    Is this subject matter true or not?

    Is it necessary to engage in the conversation?

    Is it a kind and caring way to talk about someone?

Please spread the word by sharing this article on social media if you found it helpful.

You might also be interested in our podcast episode on that topic: “Gossip – What’s The Harm?” with Simon Mott and Paul Garrigan.

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