In discussing the topic of Gossip we often speak in terms of spiritual reasons why one would want to refrain from the activity of speaking it, listening to it, or in any way being around it. And, yet, as we all know, every spiritual principle has with it a physical equivalent and manifestation.
In the Bible, when one spoke gossip (a spiritual sin) they were afflicted with “tzaris” — white-colored lesions — all over their body (physical). While speaking gossip today is still a spiritual sin, its physical manifestations are different…albeit still quite profound. They include, but are not limited to, a guilty conscience, lack of trust from others, loss of friendship, loss of business, a weakening of family relationships and much more.
And, something else: A loss of personal productivity. How?
Renowned speaker and author, Zig Ziglar (have you read his newest book, written with proud son Tom Ziglar entitled Born to Win? It’s awesome!), writes the following, excerpted from an outstanding article of his. In this instance, he’s addressing only the “listening” of gossip…
“I am absolutely convinced, no doubt about it, that the listener has more to do with the gossiping than the speaker because if you don’t listen, you’re not going to have the guy or gal talking to you. They just aren’t. When you move with purpose, people will step aside and let you go.
“I will absolutely guarantee you, you will save a minimum of an hour a day in two-minute, three-minute, five-minute things. An hour a day is five hours per week is 250 hours per year. That is six weeks of your life that you’ve wasted and six weeks of combination time that you have wasted with the people who were giving the gossip to you. What could you do with six extra weeks every year? You focus on the issue at hand.”
I believe that what Zig is saying is that the physical manifestation of participating in gossip is a loss of productivity. And, when you don’t have productivity in your life, you don’t have accomplishment, in any of the ways that are important, be they physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social or financial.
Six weeks a year of productive time is wasted by participating in gossip, and not even by speaking it!
Now, that is a sobering thought, isn’t it?
There is both life and death in the tongue; the power to build as well as the power to destroy. One of the biggest destroyers is gossip: negative talk, put-downs, rumors, accusations, bullying (verbal harassment). The harm it can cause — to individuals, families, groups, religious institutions, teams, businesses and society — is immense.
I’m doing a one-hour teleseminar on how to eliminate this from your life. And, while I know YOU don’t have this habit, you might know others who have, or be part of an organization that does. Or you might want to share this with the teachers at your children’s school who are searching for ways to to stop the problem of bullying.
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The problem with gossip is that sometimes we get caught up in it and we don’t even realize it! Great point on how the listener takes the leading role!
I think know i have to make a plan to politely decline any gossip and to make sure I also don’t feed into it or even worst start it!
Productivity lost for sure! Great article Bob. I think the productivity cost goes on and on too. When we give our energy to that kind of negativity and back channel communication, we exhaust our resources for more positive outcomes. There’s also the breach of trust – everyone leaves that conversation a bit smaller. It’s hard to do BIG things when you are small.
Excited about your teleseminar on this topic. Often people tell me they have a difficult time shutting down the gossip from others. They don’t want to hear it and they don’t want to participate, but they feel trapped in the moment, not knowing what to say. I think we must have our scripts ready for those occasions!
Always such value here! Thank you!
Raul: I think that can definitely happen. Indeed, ongoing vigilance is often necessary. Regarding your second paragraph, I have a couple of suggestions in the following post (see the second one): https://www.burg.com/2010/02/breaking-the-gossip-habit-part-two/
Didn’t Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, small minds talk about people”?
Dondi: WOW – what great teaching you blessed us with in that comment! I see another – what I call – “Dondi-ism” with “…everyone leaves that conversation a bit smaller. It’s hard to do BIG things when you are small.” Thank you so much, Dondi!
Nick: That’s one of those quotes that is absolutely timeless, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing that with us!
Besides gossip is a low energy pattern, as Wayne Dyer says in his book The Power of Intention, among others as anger, hatred, fear, shame and it doesn t allow to bring to our lives what we really want.
Very valuable post, looking forward to the teleseminar.
Abrazo enorme Bob!
Maria: Very low energy pattern, indeed. I think it sucks the energy out of those who speak it and those who listen to it. Even though it might not seem that way at the very moment, when paying attention to it consciously, it truly does. Gracias for your wisdom, y por el abrazo enorme. Egual!
That is a sobering thought indeed. It reminds of the famous “Triple Filter Test” of the great “Socrates” while dealing with somebody who wanted to gossip.
It is believed that he asked three question to the person who wanted to say something about somebody:
Is it true?
Is it good?
Is it useful?
When the answer was NO to all the three, Socrates refused to listen to what the gentleman had come to say. Wow! What an awesome example to filter out gossip VS real conversation.
Thank you for the wisdom filled post Bob. Absolutely the best!
Kumar: Thank you. Indeed, an excellent test. I believe the answer had to be “yes” to ALL three. Thank you so much for sharing with us, my great friend!
Great stuff Bob and commenters! And I love Dondi’s (and Zig’s) take…especially that when we gossip we all leave the conversation smaller…talkers and listeners! Great stuff!
Sean: Agreed, my friend. Zig’s wisdom made the post what it was, and Dondi’s wisdom-filled comment added significantly to it!
One of the insidious things about gossip is it sometimes starts out as sharings of good news about people you mutually know. Then it turns negative but with a wrapper of caring and concern to make it appear better. If you aren’t really aware of the shift you can get drawn into it.
Awareness and dealing with the shift from conversation (positive) to gossip is the key but not so simple. Great post and comments by all. Eliminating gossip is a worthy goal.
Doug: Great point. Can indeed happen that way, can’t it? As you said, awareness is so very important in this regard!
I didn’t have as chance to read all responses but want to share a site called:
acomplaintfreeworld.com Each person commits to no gossip or complaining for 21 days straight.
It is always a pleasure hearing your view!
Thank you, Mary Catherine.