Gossip is Really Good – and Bad

Gossip is really good - and bad

Gossip is really good – and bad

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss gossip, reveal when it’s good, why it’s not always negative and, share how you can overcome the need to gossip.

First a quick update:

“Cop conquers cancer with new cure – Hyperthermia”
She beat Cancer the first time but it came back 6 years later as Stage IV, and then she used a new treatment from Germany! Emotional Mojo TV show hosts Michelle Yarn, Jada Jackson, Tara Gidus and I, welcome Karen Long, a policewoman, who fought cancer and won. She used a new treatment called whole body “Hyperthermia.”  Watch the video here.

“Teens’ sexting damages boys & objectifies girls”
Teens are sexting and learning about sex and relationships by watching porn. While girls are becoming objectified and sexualized, the trend is damaging to boys and future relationships. Emotional Mojo TV show hosts Michelle Yarn, Jada Jackson and I discuss sexting. I also reveal the 4 ways it is harming boys and what parents can do to prevent it. Watch the video here.

Now, let’s talk about gossip, reveal why it’s not always negative and, share how you can overcome the need to gossip.

When we mention the word ‘gossip’, we automatically think of people gathering around to spread bad news or even lies about someone else who is not present. The gossip can be shared and vocalized in sensational ways, often with much emotion and details and aspects that are not true at all.

However, gossip is not always bad.

Gossip is gathering important information about the social environment.

There are 3 key types of gossip.

1. Shaming
This is the most common form of gossip – the spreading of news, stories, rumors or even lies with the sole intention of tearing down the person who is the center or focus of the gossip. The motivation might be to shame or shatter the image and respect for the person mentioned; it might also be to isolate or exclude the recipient from the group.

2. Veneration/Edification
This is the spreading of news, stories and reports designed to honor, revere or raise the level of respect for the person mentioned in the gossip. Although, today, the word ‘edify’ refers to moral or religious instruction, an older use of the word referred to ‘building up’ a person. Thus, gossip, in the form of edifying someone refers to praising the person at the center of the gossip – building up his image and the respect for him/her by the group or social circle.

For example, one lady sent an email to all of her co-workers telling them of their boss’ achievement in a marathon; he had set a goal of 4 hours and he achieved it in less than 4 hours. Accordingly, the team sent emails to each other (and copied to the boss) praising his achievement. The secondary result was further bonding and unification within the team. She inspired everyone.

3. Protection
This form of gossip is designed to protect the people who are participating in or listening to the conversation. The protection can refer to any information that is being shared which keeps the listeners safe – physically, mentally or emotionally. For example, a co-worker might alert you to the fact that the boss has had some bad news or there’s been a personal crisis in his/her family (without revealing all of the details) and therefore encouraging everyone to beware that the boss is very irritable or angry or defensive or curt, etc., and therefore not to take it personally.

Protective gossip might include warning people about a danger and negative experience you have had following an encounter; you might actually save someone from being ripped off or betrayed.

Protective gossip can also lead to compassion and understanding. As with the example above about the boss, the relating of the specific circumstances of the boss’ present situation can encourage co-workers to be more empathetic, patient and understanding toward their boss.

As mentioned above, gossip is the gathering of important information about the social environment, and, it is also a way to connect and bond by sharing information that is pertinent, interesting and which affects other people.

However, how do we conquer our desire to gossip when we consciously know that it is bad gossip or in the category of shaming gossip?

Become aware that what you are about to share is damaging and shaming.

Take the time to stop and imagine what it actually feels like if you were the person you are gossiping about. How would you feel about yourself and how would you feel amongst the people (your social circle) after learning what was said about you?

Damaging consequences
How does your gossip and what you are about to reveal (or make-up) affect the group? Will it unify or divide the group? Will it create factions?

The number one prevention to engaging in negative gossip is to simply ask yourself: “Does this help everyone? Is it in the best interests of everyone?” If the answer is it doesn’t help everyone or it is not in the best interests of everyone, then consider the next step below.

Your motivations
The second most effective way to prevent yourself from engaging in destructive gossip or to end the habit is to look inward and ask yourself: “What benefit am I getting or will I get from the gossip?

Benefits derived by gossiping may include:

  • Bonding with others
  • Ego boost
  • Feelings of significance
  • Attention
  • Inclusion in the group
  • Venting
  • Support
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress reduction

It’s natural for all of us to want to be included, to receive attention and to feel significant. If however, after completing the above exercise, you realize that your primary motivation is enjoyment from shaming someone else, criticizing or tearing that person down, then consider the origins of that behavior. Did you see or hear your parents doing that? Did they do that to you? Did they criticize or shame you?

Again, recall how bad that felt and use that as a way to stop yourself from repeating their behavior and thus stop yourself from harming other people.

If you need to vent, to release emotions, consider other ways. Do you need someone to validate your experience? If so, consider first who might be the most appropriate person with whom to share your experience and emotions. You might even begin by saying “Something has happened and I need someone to listen to me and maybe give me a new perspective or some advice…” In other words, become clear with yourself about what you need and what your motivation is. Next, state your need and intention clearly to the other person before sharing the story or experience.

Since gossip can fill so many emotional needs such as significance, belonging, attention, support and so forth, use gossip whenever possible as a vehicle to praise, build up and venerate others. Even if you begin with the intention to feel important, you will see how people are affected and empowered by praise and edification and then, you will transform to experiencing joy and fulfillment by making people feel good and special via positive gossip!

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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