Gossip is the dissemination of rumors and information about other people, usually intending to harm them. It is a form of communication that is often verbal but can also be written or symbolic.
Historically, it has been a way for people to communicate with the people closest to them. Today, it’s used to communicate about anyone and anything. It is a common occurrence in many social situations. Gossiping can be fun and even provide a good source of entertainment.
However, gossiping has many adverse effects, especially on one’s mental health. It negatively impacts the people who are on the topic of the conversation but also those who are listening.
A wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even psychosis, have also been experienced by those involved in gossiping. It has been proven to destroy one’s social relationships and overall quality of life, as it causes one to become introverted and miserable.
How is Gossip Good for You?
Generally, gossiping provides valuable informal information about people and a forum for learning how behaviors come about and how people think and behave. Gossip also has a role in maintaining social norms, and it is a fun way to share information and get to know people.
This activity is a means for those unable to speak freely to keep their friends and family updated on what they are saying. It also can make the person the gossip is about aware that people are talking about them and can respond if they wish.
7 Ways Gossiping can Help You
It might surprise you to learn that there are some positive effects of gossip. From a psychological perspective, human brains are designed to gossip and share information, which is also a form of release for some people. Below are a few points on how gossip can be good for a person.
It allows people to express their emotions, insecurities, or desires without fear of judgment, disclosure, or censure. It also allows for the airing of grievances, which may range from petty annoyances to significant disappointments. It provides a mechanism for resolving conflicts, avoiding confrontations, and mediating conflicts when they arise.
Despite the whispers of misinformation and gossip, gossiping can strengthen people’s confidence in their abilities and boost self-esteem.
Gossiping can provide a platform for people to learn about other people and share ideas, which can foster self-improvement. Hearing success or good stories can motivate people to improve and achieve personal goals.
The act of gossiping can build relationships and form strong bonds. The scientific explanation is that people were wired to gossip and enjoy it. A connection is made when a gossiper finds a suitable recipient of information they want to share. Oxytocin is also released in enjoyable conversations, strengthening the bond.
When people talk about other people’s mistakes, it becomes a chance for them to learn from others’ mistakes. This may reform people’s behaviors and lead them to engage more in future group settings.
Gives a feeling of dominance
Gossiping can help people feel powerful because it allows them to share information about others without the person they are gossiping about having a chance to dispute the report. It can allow people to feel superior to the person they are talking about because they have more information about them.
People are sometimes bored and find their lives monotonous. So, they resort to gossiping about other people’s lives. It may also be their way of making things a little exciting in their workplace, school, or relationships.
4 Ways Gossiping is Seriously Harmful
Anything beyond moderation can be harmful; when gossiping reaches a certain point, it starts to wave a red flag. Spreading rumors, which has become a norm, can negatively impact individuals and interpersonal relationships, destroying the victim and leading to a messy state of affiliations.
Cultivates a toxic mentality
Gossiping can lead to a “group-like mentality” in which people start to view each other as enemies instead of friends. This type of mentality can make it difficult for people to trust one another, and they may become overly critical of one another.
It also creates an environment where secrets don’t stay secret very long since everyone is likely talking about them behind each other’s backs. As a result, relationships between people suffer because they no longer feel safe confiding in one another.
Most people gossip to make themselves feel better, but it also can cause serious damage to other people’s reputations. In some cases, it takes years for someone to rebuild their reputation. Gossip spreads quickly, and rumors can significantly change people’s perceptions about someone.
In workplace settings where cooperation is required, gossip can be harmful. Workers are less likely to desire to work with their coworkers who spread rumors about them after they become the subject of gossip. This behavior frequently results in a toxic workplace because workers focus more on their coworkers’ disruptive behavior than on doing the task at hand.
Understanding and being aware of the harm gossiping can cause to morale is important to stop it. It’s because gossip can undermine people’s relationships and cause them to feel disrespected.
Gossiping can also lead to feelings of vulnerability and devastate individuals’ reputations. It can also cause damages to groups because people may start to think more about what other people are doing and about the collective rather than individuality. This could produce a sense of superiority and allow people to judge others harshly.
The ABCs to Stop Gossip
If you want to discourage gossiping and prevent it from happening in your social circles, below is a handy list of actions you can take.
Alter the topic
Change the subject gently if you find what others in a conversation are saying is turning sour. Begin by discussing a TV show or movie you saw recently, or share your weekend plans. If you are unable to change the subject, kindly excuse yourself.
Be the light
You can divert malicious rumors by putting the target of the attack in a positive light. Mention an occasion when the person helped a friend out or displayed a kind gesture in the past.
Confront the lead
There is usually a “ringleader” who starts the gossipy chats and persuades others to participate in. Try speaking with this person in private and calmly, citing concrete examples of how their actions are causing problems.
Disregard and ignore
Resolving an issue with gossip occasionally takes more effort and difficulty than completely stopping someone from spreading rumors. More often than not, it’s best to avoid discussing something if it is not worth it.
Gossip in Moderation
Gossiping has its pros and cons. Sometimes it is good to talk about thoughts, emotions, frustrations, and things that may be bottled up, which can help with the thought process and healthy debriefing of stress. But other times, it may not be helpful, especially when done excessively and with the wrong motives.
Even though gossiping brings excitement to some people and the human brain is scientifically wired to enjoy this activity, people must practice this with caution. It has caused damage to victims and occasionally leads to harm beyond repair. Just like other things in life, practice this in moderation.