Gossip may be defined as any type of harmful or hurtful communication that is not absolutely necessary to share. Gossip can ruin lives, assassinate reputations, split families, alienate friends and destroy businesses. On the other hand, a gossip-free environment leads to peaceful lives, healthier relationships, and overall prosperity.
Yes, the gift of speech is a marvelous one, depending upon how it is used.
Would you like your words to soothe instead of sting? Heal instead of hurt? And build instead of burn? Following these ten pathways will help:
1. Speak No Evil. Say only positive statements. Let words of kindness be on your tongue.
This means to respond instead of react. Think first. And, even, to “Edit your speech before you speak.”
2. Hear No Evil. Refuse to listen to gossip, slander and other negative forms of speech.
If you’re on a diet, don’t bring the cake and cookies into your home. If you’re attempting to live gossip-free, try and keep away from conversations that may tempt you to listen or chime in. Hint: If avoiding the conversation is impossible, have another topic of “positive’ interest you can quickly bring up in order to change the subject.
3. Don’t Rationalize Destructive Speech. Excuses like “But it’s true” or “I’m only joking” just don’t cut it.
Gossip is gossip, anyway you look at it. Besides, the fact that it is true is what qualifies it as gossip. If it were not true, it would be libel or slander, depending upon the medium.
In the next article, we’ll look at several more ideas. Meanwhile, let me know what you think of these.
The above article is based on the book, GOSSIP: Ten Pathways to Eliminate It From Your Life and Transform Your Soul which I was privileged to coauthor with Lori Palatnik
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These first three pathways are probably encountered by everyone in a social environment, almost every day…sometimes several times a day! There are a couple of huge nuggets within you post Bob: Think/edit your speech, the diet example & another point of interest, are three of which I can keep in my head! I have found that the more I smile, the less likely I am to be approached with this type of conversation. As for spreading it, simple conscientiousness of do so is a good reminder not to. As for “another point of interest”, that is pretty easy….talk about the person you are talking to. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves! Thank you for preparing me for a meeting tonight! As always, GREAT TIMING! – Joe
I was just reading this today from the Book of Proverbs:
“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things
as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.” (12:14)
This is my ever constant struggle, and what I want to change the most about myself, what I say. What I say determines the outcome in all areas of my life, and I work really hard at being mindful of what comes out of my mouth so as to bless and not harm myself or others.
Thanks Bob for the ever-present reminder of how important our own words are.
Thank you, Jennifer; Thank you, Joe. Gossip is something I struggled with personally for many years before coming to the conclusion that it was a terrible habit and one that I needed to break. The result was a huge difference both in happiness and personal effectiveness.
Great article Bob!
I have found that getting involved in gossip takes my focus off what is really important both professionally and personally. I would get sucked into the drama and the next thing I would know…the day is gone and I didn’t complete my To Do list or got any closer to reaching my goals!
As a rule, the filter I use is: Would I be saying this about so and so if they were part of the conversation? If the answer is no, the mouth is shut!
I too have seen such a change in my life by not getting sucked in. If I walk into a gossip pack (always seems to be in packs – that is how it gains momentum) I either try to change the subject or I remove myself from the conversation. Life is too short to complain about somebody else’s shortcomings when I have so much work to do on MYSELF!!! I remember in the Bible Jesus talking to a holier than thou saying before you remove the twig from your neighbor’s eye, you should remove the log from yours!
Thank you for the article…always appreciated for the quality of content and the rich discussions
Thanks for this much needed article, Bob!
As a social psychologist, I work on this topic with a variety of athletic and business groups.
My favorite group is working with young athletic teams on this topic. Becoming aware of the backtalking, recognizing the damage to their team and personal energy drain, and replacing gossip with higher standards and positive habits is such an important LIFE tool. It goes beyond peak performance…to creating greater happiness and stronger leadership.
Appreciate you highlighting this topic and giving great pointers. Hats off to you and Lori!
Thank you, Dr. Mollie. You’re so right; young athletic teams are a great place to work on this and help them to form habits that are going to build instead of destroy. Way to go!! I particularly enjoy what you said: “It goes beyond peak performance…to creating greater happiness and stronger leadership.” Awesome!
Rick, sorry, I missed your comment. The personal rule you use (mentioned in your second paragraph) is an excellent one to live by. Yes! Thank you for sharing.
These three rules are good to keep in mind. I have found that avoiding gossips has made my own life much happier, so it’s a good thing to do for selfish reasons, besides being kind to other people, who may be negatively affected by spreading gossip.
On the subject of kindness, here’s one of my favorite quotes, attributed to Plato:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
And we never know when our kindness may be just the inspiration they need to get through the day; there is a line from the movie version of “Harvey” where Elwood P Dowd says something like: “There are two ways to go through life. You can be clever, or nice. I tried clever, I recommend nice.”
I recommend nice, too.
Thanks for sharing ideas to make the world a nicer place.
Edward, that’s great. Thank YOU. I agree with you on all counts, my friend. Thank you for sharing.
Great post Bob,
“Edit your speech before you speak.” Best advice ever.
Every time I have a conversation with someone whether the person standing in front of me is in pain and needs my help or they just said something hurtful to me – first question I ask myself is:
What do I want to achieve at the end of this conversation?What is my goal?
Most people do not know they do more harm that good when they speak….That goes both for business relationships and Personal.Every word can chip at someone s self-image…
How to begin?
Ask myself: Do I want to make a difference?
Do I want to make a good point and have the person in front of me interact with me a little different next time around?
Or do I just want to hurt the person in front of me,make them feel worse than they did before the conversation and me just spit out whatever was bothering me(and ad some spice by bringing some of my previous anger into this conversation as well)…….
We can always choose…
Thank you, Lorena; great lessons!!