Gossip is “sharing information by a group of people in a social context.” Gossip is negative, hurtful, and can be very damaging. It’s also so common that we don’t even think about it. We just gossip mindlessly without realizing how bad it is for our health, relationships, and self-esteem.
Gossip has long been seen as a negative attribute, but it's not all bad. Gossip can signify social intelligence and the ability to process complex information. It can be how we learn about what's happening in our lives and our communities. It's how we know about our friends' relationships, who got a job promotion, or why that person was fired. Gossip can help us make sense of the world around us.
But although gossip can be helpful and even beneficial in some situations, it often comes with a cost: Gossiping can hurt other people's feelings or damage relationships if they hear it secondhand or feel like they're being discussed behind their backs.
Here are three primary reasons I encourage you to be gossip-free in 2023:
1 Gossip harms your social relationships
Gossip is a form of communication, but it's not good. Gossiping is a way to share information about others, usually with a negative slant. It can be hurtful and damaging to the people you're talking about and damage your reputation if you're caught gossiping. This has been going on for years, but with social media, it's easier than ever for someone to post something that goes viral instantly. It's also easier for anyone to make their opinion known without having any facts behind it. On top of that, there's no guarantee that anything you say will remain confidential; once something has been posted online.
Gossiping can hurt the relationship between you and the person you're talking about — especially if they find out what you said about them! You might also make yourself look bad by saying something false or exaggerating information just to get attention. But it can also be hurtful if the information revealed is not accurate and can cause severe damage to relationships.
There are many ways we can prevent gossip from hurting others: We can choose not to engage in gossip ourselves; when someone starts talking about someone else behind their back, we can ask if they'd like to talk directly with them instead; we can speak up when people say something damaging or untrue about someone else; and we can stand up for others when they're being talked about in an unkind way or unfairly judged by others.
2 Gossip negatively affects your work
The workplace is one of the best places to spread gossip, but it's also one of the worst places to be caught doing so. Gossip can be a great way to bond with colleagues and feel like part of the team. But, workplace gossip can be harmful to morale. You never want people to feel like they aren't valued or supported by their employer or colleagues. This could happen if no other positive conversations are happening in the office besides negative ones surrounding employees' personal lives or work performance.
This can damage the company culture in several ways. It could spread rumors that aren't true and cause people to lose trust in one another or feel like they have no privacy at work anymore. This is especially true when it comes to projects requiring collaboration and creative problem-solving, where people must be themselves and share ideas without fear of judgment or reprisal. This can lead employees to become less engaged with their work and ultimately leave them feeling fulfilled and unhappy at work.
3 Gossip is bad for your mental and physical health
It’s not just the people who gossip who suffer. Gossip can be bad for your mental and physical health, too. Gossip has been linked with increasing stress levels. It can also create anger, sadness, and jealousy in others being talked about behind their backs. Sometimes, this can lead to depression or anxiety disorders if these negative emotions become too much for someone to handle on their own.
Gossiping about another person can make you feel good because it makes you feel superior to the person being talked about. However, this short-lived feeling will quickly turn into guilt and regret. It can also lead to depression and anxiety if you constantly feel guilty about what you’ve said or been told.
People who gossip are less likely to have good friendships than those who don't. If someone has this expectation of friendship but then discovers that they are being crossed or hurt by their friend, it can be very upsetting and even damaging to their overall health.
Gossiping can also be associated with increased stress and lower self-esteem among women due to feeling inadequate compared to other women they know. In men, gossiping has been linked with low self-esteem and body image concerns. The harmful effects of gossip may be due to its ability to increase social isolation and decrease feelings of belongingness for victims of gossip, as well as the potential for victims to lose trust in others after finding out that someone shared personal information about them without permission or perceived as a violation of their privacy.
4 Gossip wastes your time
You may only realize how much time you spend gossiping if you keep track of it. But when you do, you'll probably be surprised at how much time has been wasted on unimportant things like this instead of being productive in another way. The next time you gossip, make a conscious effort to stop. You might have to repeat this several times before it becomes a habit—but once it does, you'll be glad you did! Gossiping can be toxic to relationships and communities. If you gossip, try to change your behavior by finding a more productive way of spending your time.
Often we use gossip as a way of deflecting from our insecurities by intentionally trying to distract others away from ourselves. The old saying goes: "A little bit of gossip can be fun, but too much will cost you the trust of those around you."
The next time you find yourself sitting around talking about someone else, stop and think: "What if they overheard what I'm saying?" If they did, would it make them feel good? Or would it make them feel bad? Gossip is a massive waste of time. You may be able to justify wasting your own time, but you can't justify wasting someone else's.
5 Focus on building friendships that are free of gossip
Focus on building solid friendships that are mutually free of gossip. If you keep company with gossipers and rumormongers, chances are high you'll also find yourself gossiping. Instead, seek out friends who enjoy talking about positive things in life — like how much fun they had at the last party or how proud they were of their kids' accomplishments at school — rather than criticizing others behind their backs or spreading rumors about them online.
Refrain from being pulled into conversations where people talk negatively about others' appearances or personalities. If someone starts telling stories that make another person out to be a bad person, leave the conversation as soon as possible.
Pay attention to the people you spend the most time with. How do they speak about people that are not in the room? Do they take pleasure in bringing others down? If so, you may need to find new friends. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into conversations where people talk negatively about others' appearances or personalities. If someone starts telling stories that make another person out to be a bad person, leave the conversation as soon as possible. Think about surrounding yourself with people who you know would speak positively about you whether or not you were there.