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What do we do with a destructive gossip?

Updated on March 25, 2013

Gossip. Love it, hate it....the fact is, we cannot ignore it. The good old rumor gives people social sustenance of a sometimes perverse kind. Gossip, for whatever intent, has a really damaging effect on both the gossiper and the person who is being gossiped about. What consequences, then, does gossip have and what can a person do to protect himself from the dreaded rumor monger?

The nasty nature of gossip

Gossip damages social standing.

Simply put, rumors make you look bad in front of everyone.The person who is being described as being “the bosses’ favorite” or the “flirtatious one in the neighborhood” will find it difficult to have a proper standing in the community or workplace. The gossiper hurts himself too; he ends up marring the impression others may have of him and loses any vestige of trust and respect anyone may have. the palpable tension that surfaces as a result can be unbearable.

Gossip is a veiled form of bullying.

Gossip is a veiled form of bullying; though not physical, the awful taste left in the mouths who receive negative feedback about a certain party causes them to ostracize him or her.

The lack of social standing makes it really difficult for that person to garner respect or friendship within a community; the isolation, keenly felt, can weigh heavily on a person’s mind and not only results in his loss of sense of self-worth; the psychological effects have a far enough reach to make him or her take undesirable, drastic actions.

Gossip influences our choices negatively.

Gossip leads to poor choices. Spreading a certain rumor about, say, a certain person in the office may, for instance, force him to resign from his or her post and he, as a result, not only ends up losing his friends and his job; the company sustains possibly a loss in a person who could have been a valuable contributor to the company. Gossip can lead to the wrong choice of friends; keeping company with someone who is a gossip is, of course, bad because he or she has poor moral fiber.

We trust the wrong people.

It is easy to misplace trust when we gossip. We end up forging bonds with people who gossip and end up placing trust in the wrong hands; the person who tells a juicy secret can also place trust in the wrong person and end up with a fiasco of betrayal and miscommunication that heralds awkwardness at best and a war of words or even fists at worst. A lady who was a successful litigator suffered at the hands of the gossiping church community; believing mistakenly in rumors that a gentleman in the church wanted to marry her, she immediately returned the “profession of love’ only to be ridiculed and teased by him. She not only left the church; she had a nervous breakdown which caused her to accuse everybody of trying to stalk her. Yes, the psychological ramifications were indeed tremendous and undesirable.

We invade another person’s privacy when we gossip.

The rumor many of us so much enjoy is also the surest way to invade another person’s privacy. The person being gossiped about, of course can feel emotionally naked in front of others, what with everyone knowing his or her every movement and action. Take the celebrity, for example. Gossip about him or her usually is reported with the intent of boosting TV or readership ratings; while good for the business of the Newsagent or Broadcasting Company, the poor celebrity has to live a rather stressful life knowing that he or she will always be watched and have little or no time or space of his own. Having a holiday in secrecy is hardly enviable.

Rumors damage friendships.

Gossip breaks friendships; a gossip may gain attention and the limelight for a short time, but the friends he ends up making are only captivated by the news he may have and not be really interested in him or her as a person. No real friendships are formed; one just gains a perverse sense of his popularity.

A dangerous weapon for social war.

Interestingly, gossip functions as a tool for office or neighborhood politics. Some use it to improve their social and therefore rapport with bosses in the office; others may just say a few words in selfishness to make another look bad while he boosts his own ego. Cunning ones may even use it to spread word to a targeted person using the voice of another. For whatever it is, gossip is certainly a deadly weapon.

Manipulating gossip is an art

Be tactful.

So how do we fend off unwanted persons who spread unneeded and unwanted gossip? Thing first thing to do is to think before we speak ourselves; the things we say can trigger off unwanted miscommunication or verbal battles. Of course, by relishing the moment of attention and revealing a “secret” about someone, we may end up causing more hurt than we intend.

Change the subject immediately.

When we sense that someone is gossiping, it is good to change the subject immediately to avoid being drawn into a cycle of rumors and avoid any unnecessary “he said....” but “she said”, situations. The distraction will serve to put you out of the position of having to participate in any unhealthy, negative conversations about anyone, especially if the person being gossiped about is a friend or family member.

Learn to keep your own secrets.

Naturally, never tell any secrets to anyone you do not trust; better yet, try to have some personal space of your own and keep certain things just to yourself. Gossip stops if it never starts i

Be aware of social situations.

Have some social awareness and tact. Be aware of situations when you can be drawn to gossip or say things that you should not; having one’s senses about him is very helpful in dealing with negative social situations. When a coworker begins griping about your boss, it is time to do an about turn and avoid an unhealthy exchange or spread of information that can lead to misunderstanding.

Address the gossiper directly.

We can address the person who gossips about us directly; have an open conversation with him or her, because spreading of rumors may simply indicate that he has some feed back that he or she needs to communicate but is unable to. Have an open mind and establish clearly what is making him or her so dissatisfied.

Learn social protocol.

It is useful to learn some social protocol; it is important to communicate messages to certain people before others. If your boss finds out about something that happened in the company after his subordinate does, he may have a sense of being bypassed or disrespected, and it is worse if the messages have been miscommunicated.

Avoid the passing of information-it leads to misinformation!

It will be good to handle situations yourself before speaking to anyone else whenever you can; this prevents the wrong ideas from being communicated. Avoid, or example, the passing of information; gossip sometime stems from mistaken words and messages and it is good to keep these in check before they are said.

Do not let others make use of you as a signboard.

We should not let others make use of us as bulletin boards; if you are a gossip yourself, others may simply use you as a signpost to communicate information to others and secretly laugh at you for being silly. A cunning person may actually use you to communicate negative feed back about your boss; instead of getting berated himself, you as the rumor monger end up being the target for your superior’s fury.

Gossip is unhealthy; verbal bullying, it signals a lack of being able to handle one’s issues in the proper manner and a low moral fiber. Certainly, it can have more damaging psychological and social effects that it needs to.

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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well said and very valid points. If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. (I'm still practicing that rule!)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Linda, indeed! We should all be weary of the gossip!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Midg; great advice, sometimes hard to follow in the heat of the moment, but still very helpful and should be heeded. :) Voted and shared.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I know some people (past friends) who can really fire up a gossip; they are untrustworthy because when a gossip reaches to you from them, they can do the same thing 'bout you. When a gossip reaches one person, that person can do better by keeping it to herself and not pass it on because it will turn the latter equally becoming a "gossiper". Sometimes, we can't help it and we need someone to talk to, hoping to get back comfort and advice from a 'friend' we think we could trust, but that 'trust' despises and betrays you. Stop right there the moment you notice it and never nurture it.

      It is a very sad thing falling into a pit of ugly words choking us up poisoned by one person to another and another and another...it is never ending. To us, who are well educated and brought up by our parents gracefully, we hate the thought of receiving and transmitting negative, malicious gossips with which we fall as vulnerable victims, for we become hated too. So, I've learned a great deal from contagious, damaging, despiteful, venomous gossips and rumours, and the carrier themselves to stay away from any and simply be distrustful towards them.

      I am sharing this useful and interesting hub of yours, midget. I want to spread the word in a positive way. Thanks and may your day be welcoming with positive energies wherever these are originating from.

      Love, Tess

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Michelle, great hub, lots of useful advice. I hate gossip and I avoid it at all costs - I just think some people cannot help themselves, they seem to thrive on it.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      True. We all just speak loosely when we're enjoying the moment.....but something to avoid! Thanks for coming by, TT!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Coffeegginmyrice, this is wonderful insight. Yes, gossip is indeed like a bottomless pit...one which we fall into because we feel unwanted, unloved and neglected. Thanks for coming in, my friend and for the share......and may we all not meet or become gossipers and destroy.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It's how they get attention, Jools! Gossip...the latest dirt on whosoever is always a sure attention grabber. I sure hate it!! Thanks so much for the insight, Jools!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, Michelle great article and I was taught early on in life by my dear old mom that if I had nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all. No truer words have been spoken and can tell you I try very hard to indeed live my life by this, because I truly hate the drama behind the gossip and want no part of being involved when I don't have to be. I very much do agree with your message here and of course have voted and shared too!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes Janine, when people gossip, it's because they enjoy the drama and attention that comes along with it! We should all try to be a bit more mature. Thanks for coming by, my friend.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      An insightful hub with all the valid points! I completely understood the nature of gossip, especially the negative side as it affect both the gossipers and targets of gossip from my past experiences. The best thing to deal with gossip-mongers is either to ignore them or don't get involved in gossip. A fetching hub! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think the best is not to get involved altogether.....gossip eventually hurts, no matter how innocent it may seem at first. We all know, but I think all of us get caught in the moment sometimes!! Thanks for the lovely, insightful comment, my dear!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Change the subject immediately, I do that often. Outstanding hub. I had to come back again to let you know that!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      True, Linda, when it gets that way, talk about something else! Thanks for coming in again!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I don't like gossip anywhere, but especially at work and I just do my best not to respond. And sometimes I just walk out of the room if I can. I don't want to be implicated or anything for something I just happened to listen to. I agree gossiping is a form of bullying and it needs to stop. Great hub!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It does a lot of damage indeed, Alecia! It's best to stay out of the way. It's a form of ostracism and indirect bullying....best be put in its place, out of the way! Thanks for coming by!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      When I was in the work force, I saw a lot of gossiping. I just ignored it and would not participate. It's a dangerous habit for some people.

      I voted this UP, and will share in all the right places.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hey, Mary, gossip is a very dangerous habit indeed!! As Linda said here, just change the subject if someone suddenly starts talking about something else. Thanks for coming by!

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Gossip can be very hurtful, but there may be rare occasions when you hear something about yourself that leads you to make a positive change. Thanks for the hub. Voted up and informative.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      True, Your Cousins, if one is introspective and reflective enough, the gossip may end up being a good thing that causes you to make a positive change. Thanks for coming by!

    • fresh2def05 profile image

      fresh2def05 4 years ago from Louisville, Ky

      This was a very interesting read. If only we could always address the gossiper. However, nowadays with social media calling the shots, one could have rumors being spread about them and not be able to do anything about it. I think it all comes down to humans as a whole. By nature, we are greedy, power hungry and selfish. We will do anything to make ourselves feel better even if it means putting someone else down. In the words of the great Biggie Smalls, "Before we can change the world, we must first change ourselves".

      I enjoyed reading this hub and have voted it up. Thanks.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      You are right Michelle. It is not right to gossip. It is always good to talk about the achievement of a person and not the failures.

      Mistakes of others will serve as a lesson not for entertainment.

      Voted up and useful.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi, fresh2def05, thanks for coming by and commenting! True. Human nature is by nature self-serving....for survival. It's only the matter of degree. And we always have to be conscious of that! Thanks for this thought provoking comment!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Always say the positive things and we won't go wrong, Meldz! Thanks for coming by!

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      it's so strange that we humans tend to bond strongly through negative communication.. Our words are so powerful and can cause much damage as well as much blessing.

      Great article Michelle.. loved it and shared :)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mike. What you say here is so true. Humans tend to bond over negative communication. I guess that's because everyone needs space to vent, but they don't do it positively. Thanks for sharing!

    • agapsikap profile image

      agapsikap 4 years ago from Philippines

      Hi midget38. You have a very beautiful and interesting hub in here. Problem of this kind were still around and endless. I really like the part wherein you pointed out the invasion to someones privacy. The infamy of gossip cause someone to infringe upon the rights of others. The total outcome is world war. Hub of this kind need to be shared.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Gossiping does that, though people do it casually without thinking of the effect that it has on others. Thanks for sharing, agapsikap!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Also...gossip is for those with too much time on their hands. If they used their time more wisely they would have less time to gossip. Something a wise person once told me.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, they do have very little else to do! Good point, Linda!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Ah, tell me about it. We have a lot of this at 37K feet. Lol! And, what do I do with them? I stay away or try to change the subject. Then I was labelled snobbish (by some) :) Well, I guess they are everywhere but like what Sunshine said above, they have too much time in their hands. I just wish they use it more productively and not become a nuisance.

      Very interesting topic. I'm gossiping about it. Lol! Sharing my darling.

      Here's some love to you from the sky.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      I agree, those who gossip really do have too few things to do. Gossip in the name of "bonding" surely is not the way to go. Thanks for sharing, Cristina!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Excellent hub! I think a lot of people have a hard time telling the difference between stating facts and opinions and the creation of gossip. The moment someone starts speculating...that is when trouble gets started. I say, if you want to talk about others, just stick to facts and/or your opinion. Leave out speculation that the next person can take as factual. Voting up and sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      State facts about everything we talk about! it's the only way to go. thanks for sharing, Jayme.

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