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Why People Love Talking Behind Others' Backs?

Updated on July 5, 2017

Many people love talking behind others’ backs as if it is one of their favorite habits, and they can’t help doing so. Why don’t they talk in front of others? Is it because they aren’t confident enough to speak what they think in public?

Last year, I landed a translator job at an online network company. My department had over 20 people, and they came from different places. Some of them lived far from Hanoi, and others often walked to work. I quickly adapted to the new workplace and started working. I worked effectively so my manager usually paid me compliments, and encouraged me to try more.

But life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned. One day, I discovered that someone usually spoke behind my back with other colleagues. He told that I missed the deadline at all times, and didn’t make any contribution to projects’ success. "She was still praised because of my close relationship with supervisors", he said. He spread rumors about me to all people in my company, and not long after I became known as an arse-licker.

Luckily, my manager always put her trust in my qualifications. Hence, she held a meeting to justify me to all the staff. Although she didn’t say the name of the person who spread rumors, I thought that this was enough. After that, people changed their way of thinking about me. They respected me and treated me better.

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Reasons why people love speaking behind others’ backs

We have spoken behind others’ back in either a positive or negative way. At first, the stories could be going in the right direction. We can share about family or personal life. But when it comes to work, it is easy to fall into saying bad words about someone who is better than us. We point out all their mistakes and think that what they obtained doesn’t come from their real abilities. We even compare their bad sides with ours which we find to be better than theirs.

As the saying goes, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who do not." People in the first group will separate the world into two groups: "people are like me" and “people aren’t”. We always look for people who are like us and do everything we can to get rid of people who are different from us. An article published in Nautilus also showed that our brains hate others.

Here are some reasons why some people like badmouthing others:

1. Put others down to lift yourself up

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

Many people criticize others because they are very jealous of others’ achievements. We belittle colleagues by all means, from spreading rumors about their competence to revealing their private lives. In this way, we feel that we ourselves are comforted and seem better than others.

For example, we might start by saying something like "he got into this school but it is said that he had to ask his parents for help", "he is an excellent employee but his marriage doesn’t make him happy" or "she get promoted but I doubt that if it is because of her real abilities". We seemingly recognize others’ talents but adding the word “but” to reverse what we’ve said.

2. When gossip is a hobby

Talking too much is one of the worst habits in the work environment. Conversations can last for hours with countless topics such as family, love, fashion, and movies. We express our opinions and judge others in any way.

Speaking behind others’ back during conversations is unavoidable. Because when the story becomes interesting, we will want to raise our views rather than trying to suppress our emotions, like inertia.

3. Don’t know how to keep secrets

Have you ever told a secret to a colleague, and then in the next morning, it was revealed to your whole company? Surely, you swore that you would never share anything with that person.

Sharing your secrets can be a good idea to seek empathy or emotional relief. However, be careful because one day, when you go far beyond your colleagues, they will take advantage of your secret to lower you in front of others.

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The danger of defaming someone’s back

Speaking behind people's backs is a dangerous habit. If you don’t completely remove it, it will most likely turn you into a bad person and ruin your reputation. Don’t think that no one knows your bad behaviors.

1. Destroy the trust

Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. Trust will help you to understand each other better, become more affectionate and be ready to share everything.

When a person speaks ill of others, all of you slowly lose faith in each other. Sooner or later, this leads to a broken relationship.

2. Make you become jealous persons

Speaking badly of others when becoming a habit will increase jealousy in your hearts. It will make your soul dark so you can find hard to think positively.

If you deny others’ efforts and talents, no one will acknowledge your ability. You will fall into sink into despair, no matter how good you are.

A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that people are less likely to be likable and trustworthy when they gossip about others.

3. Reduce productivity

Badmouthing co-workers will increase conflicts in the workplace. As a result, it diminishes the willpower of people and the working performance.

When spending a lot of time thinking about others, you disturb your concentration. Then, you don’t complete anything at all.

4. People will hate you in the long run

There is nothing worse than feeling ashamed when everything is exposed to the light, and people realize that you are just a gossiper. No one wants to be friends with such a person.


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How to stop talking about others behind their backs?

1. Make comments directly and politely

If you have suggestions and comments on what others do, bravely speak in front of them. Make an appointment, call or email and then say whatever you want. Absolutely no gossip. Only reveal the conversation to the people who are involved or will solve the problem.

2. Practice the habit of praising people

If you used to criticize others in the past, rarely compliment anyone and now want to change, then start praising sincerely and truthfully. Make it become part of your a daily routine.

3. Limit your participation in gossiping

To give up something, make sure you remove everything relating to it. For example, to stop eating snacks, don’t buy snacks or go to fast food stalls. If you still come in contact with them, chances are that you will fall back into food addiction soon.

In this case, if you want to give up the habit of badmouthing and criticizing others, limit conversations with people who talk too much, except for work-related reasons. Instead of meeting, you can email or hand tasks over to them through teamwork apps like Trello or Asana. Be determined and you will gradually see very positive changes in your life.

Talking behind someone’s back will ruin your relationship, reputation, and career. So, stop it today to protect what you have.

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 2 months ago

      "Why don’t they talk in front of others? Is it because they aren’t confident enough to speak what they think in public?"

      Oftentimes what people say behind someone's back is something they have already said to his or her face. They just may be retelling the story to others and expanding their opinion.

      Sometimes people just love to spice up their conversation with something that illustrates (their life) isn't as bad as others.

      Accepting the fact that there is nothing you can do to stop it is the first step to not giving a damn.

      Learning to keep your life private is the key.

      The bigger or more unusual a story is the less likely it will be kept a "secret". If the "individual" couldn't keep it to them self to begin with; they should know by sharing it with someone they run the risk of that person also relaying it to others.

      Some people feel like the point of knowing secrets is to let others know that (they) have the "411" on everything and everyone. They want to be seen as important or the "go to person" for information.