People gossip for many reasons - to feel superior, out of boredom, out of envy, to feel like part of the group they are with and to grab attention.
Unfortunately, gossip feels good and the short-term rewards often distract us from the fact that we know better. It makes us feel better about ourselves to know something about someone else and share that with another. Other times, speaking about the personal faults of others makes it easier to overlook our own.
There is an old story of a person who repeated a rumour about a neighbour. Soon, the whole community had heard the rumour. Later, the person who spread the gossip learned that the rumour was untrue. He was very sorry and went to a sage asking for remedial measure. The sage told him, “Go to your home and take a feather pillow outside. Rip it open and scatter the feathers, then return to me tomorrow.” The man did as the elder had instructed.
The following day, he visited the sage. The sage said, “Go collect the feathers you scattered yesterday and bring them back to me.” The man went home and searched for the feathers, but the wind had carried them all away. Returning to the sage, he admitted, “I could find none of the feathers I scattered yesterday.” “You see,” said the sage, “it‘s easy to scatter the feathers but impossible to get them back.” So it is with gossip; it doesn’t take much to spread hurtful information, but once you do, you can never completely undo the damage.
The most dangerous part about gossip is that it steals another person’s reputation. A reputation is very fragile. When you gossip, you are helping to destroy something extremely valuable.
Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Using the analogy of the human mind as a computer, gossip can be compared to a computer virus. A computer virus is a piece of computer language written in the same language all the other codes are written in, but with a harmful intent. This code is inserted into the program of your computer when you least expect it and most of the time without your awareness.
One little piece of misinformation can break down communication between people; causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others. Imagine that every single time others gossip to you, they insert a computer virus into your mind, causing you to think a little less clearly every time. Then imagine that in an effort to clean up your own confusion and get some relief from the poison, you gossip and spread these viruses to someone else.
Now imagine this pattern going on in a never-ending chain between all the humans on earth. The result is a world full of humans who can only read information through circuits that are clogged with a poisonous, contagious virus.”
So it’s time for us to decide we don’t want to have any part of gossip. Here are some tips on how to implement your decision.
* Make a commitment you’re not going to gossip even if the temptation to gossip is powerful.
* Don’t listen to others when they gossip. If someone starts to tell some gossip, say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about these persons when they’re not here to defend themselves”. Not only will you break the gossip chain, but you also will gain the trust of other people, as someone who won’t spread rumours.
* Don’t judge people based on gossip. Always let your own personal experience determine what you think.
Stay away from people who gossip or stop it before it starts.