When you are having conversations with friends or coworkers, you may unknowingly find yourself exposed to gossip. In addition, many individuals have no problem talking about the personal lives of others or making jokes about others behind their backs. Sadly, gossip has the potential to destroy our lives. We have compiled the reasons why people gossip in this article. In addition to providing advice on how to break this undesirable pattern of behaviour.
Why do people gossip?
A significant amount of investigation is put into determining what persuades people to engage in gossip by scientists. The following are the four most common explanations for why people engage in such behavior:
1. So that they can feel more connected to the people around them
A study conducted in 2006 and published in the Journal of the American Psychological Association found that discussing negative aspects of other people can be a bonding experience for the participants. When analyzing the results, Jennifer Bosson, who was in charge of the experiment, came to this unexpected conclusion.
She observed that people felt closer to one another as a result of hearing negative gossip as opposed to positive gossip. The study also discovered that when people have a negative opinion in common about a certain individual, they are more likely to find common ground and sympathize with each other more quickly.
According to Bosson’s theory, this is the case because such experiences assist in defining clear boundaries both within the social group and outside of it. In addition, those who engage in gossip may experience an increase in their self-esteem, and it may also assist in revealing their inner attitudes and moral values.
2. To manipulate
Terence Cruz of the Netherlands conducted research in 2019 that described both the positive and negative motivations underlying gossip. It demonstrated that the positive things we say about the people in our lives are generally accurate and cause them little to no harm.
Negative gossip, on the other hand, frequently includes some element of untruth, which is required to bring down society’s opinion of a person, force them to conform to the expectations of other people or change their beliefs.
In addition, studies have shown that manipulators engage in gossip to get what they want. Many people who are the topic of gossip make an effort to change their behaviour in an attempt to disprove the unfavourable opinions of others. People act in this manner for another reason, to keep themselves from coming into contact with unsavoury gossip again.
3. In order to caution others
Even though the practice of gossiping is frowned upon rather than encouraged in today’s society, the motivations behind the behaviour could be admirable.
According to the findings of a study conducted in the United States by a professor of sociology named Robb Willers, gossip can be used to warn others about people who might cause them harm. One possibility is that a new friend might not be reliable, might be easily manipulated, or might not even remotely resemble who they say they are.
The research also found that participating in such gossip helps to relieve the disappointment associated with facing reality when expectations regarding a person are not met.
Additionally, Robb Willer discovered that gossip has the potential to assist in the development of stronger social bonds in social groups. People are more likely to behave in a manner that is consistent with the collective norms when they are aware that gossip is circulating within the group.
The professor elaborated on the topic as follows:
Letting our friends and acquaintances know about people whose behaviour has been questionable can help them determine who they can put their faith in. And the threat of gossip in the first place is enough to deter people from engaging in risky behaviour because they want to protect their reputation.
4. To have a more favorable view of oneself
According to the results of a study conducted in 2017 and published in the American Journal of Psychoendocrinology, gossip affects the levels of the hormone oxytocin. It is the driving force behind uplifting feelings.
Several different students experimented. They were given a reason to talk negatively about a fellow student and gossip about a classmate by being told another student was hurt and needed their help.
When the subjects discussed gossip, the researchers found that their bodies produced significantly more oxytocin than when they discussed the other topic.
This research suggests that gossip may help people feel better and deal with stressful situations more effectively.
How to avoid gossip
The habit of gossiping can be a cruel trick in society, even if the person doing the gossiping has good intentions. People may stop trusting someone who acts in such a manner or may be afraid to get close to that person out of fear that the other person will behave identically behind them.
Here are some tips to help you stop gossiping:
1. Imagine for a moment what your reaction would be if you were in this situation
It is helpful to put yourself in the place of the people whose biographies you are familiar with to determine whether it is necessary to reveal certain information. Think about how happy you would be if other people heard what you want them to say about you.
When someone finds out that they are the topic of gossip, the majority of them experience feelings of depression and betrayal. They lose trust in those who spread the gossip and may cease communication. Some people wouldn’t think twice about exacting revenge on their abuser by telling others something negative about them.
Be that as it may, making a difference between positive and negative gossip is essential. For instance, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share information about your friend’s achievements with acquaintances, as long as you do it to be happy for her and celebrate the hard work that she has put in. This is perfectly acceptable behaviour. In this particular instance, it is essential to note that it is beneficial to share information that she is not trying to hide from herself.
It is best to keep one’s mouth shut, however, when the gossip focuses on touchy topics or unfavourable aspects of the situation. If you don’t do this, it can hurt not only your reputation but also the reputation of the person you’re talking about in other people’s eyes.
2. Finding the appropriate words to use
It is essential to pick the appropriate words to use when gossiping, even if the person with whom you are engaging in the activity is good at keeping secrets. You can keep more of your dignity and respect for yourself if you do this. For instance, if someone overhears your conversation or if he discusses it with another person and they find out about it.
Even if the person you are referring to is extremely irritating, it is not a good idea to be harsh or critical of them in any way. Use neutral words. They will not engage in overt hostility toward the individual you are having a conversation with. Still, they will assist that individual in better understanding your perspective on the matter.
Regarding gossip, there is a good rule to follow regarding the choice of words: never say anything behind someone else’s back that you would not say to that person directly.
As an illustration, let’s say you want to talk about a friend or acquaintance who you recently encouraged to get a haircut. However, she went with a different one, which did not work out well for her. You must refrain from making derogatory comments such as “Her hair is just awful” or “If she had listened to me, she wouldn’t look so disgusting,” as well as other comments of a similar nature.
Instead, you should say something like, “I think she should change her hairdresser if she recommended that hairstyle,” or “I think she would look better with a braid.”
If your acquaintance learns about what you said in the first place, it is doubtful that she will want to communicate with you in any capacity in the future. In addition, maintaining a neutral tone in one’s expression will make the gossip less harmful and poisonous.
3. Consider the motivations behind your desire to discuss this specific individual
Think about why you will discuss that person in particular before you start spreading rumours about them. This will assist in identifying a problem that is worth addressing, which will allow you to refrain from engaging in gossip.
- The following are some reasons why people gossip about other people:
- because they are envious of the person they are spreading gossip;
- because they have an unresolved conflict or resentment toward the person;
- in order to boost their self-esteem at the expense of another person; to relieve boredom with “hot” topics.
Naturally, each person’s reasons for engaging in gossip are unique, and there are likely many more possibilities. If you want to break your addiction to gossip, the best way to do so is to focus on finding solutions to the problems at hand. For instance, you can begin to improve your sense of self-worth by deciding to stop comparing yourself to the person you are discussing or by forgiving him for the pain he has caused you.
4. Put an end to your conversations with people who gossip
It is essential to create distance between yourself and those who initiate these conversations to break your habit of participating in them. This can be a total refusal to communicate with the other person. Or you could change the subject to something that doesn’t involve talking about other people.
You and your conversation partner can have an open discussion about the fact that you do not wish to participate in gossip. Because this limit is so obvious, it will be easier for him to decide what to do next: talk about other topics, or go to another person and discuss the secrets of other people with them.
5. Don’t search for reasons to gossip
Certain individuals actively seek opportunities to gossip about other people. For instance, opening the profile page of a former significant other on a social networking site and looking at their pictures. Or listen in on confidential phone conversations that are taking place between coworkers.
Instead, you should focus on your wants, needs, and to-do list more frequently. No, not on what other people are doing or how they live.
6. Keep a diary
A personal diary is a thing that helps to express emotions but at the same time keeps something secret. Write down the gossip that you want to share, as well as your attitude towards them.
In addition, engaging in such practice will assist you in analyzing the issues that are driving your desire to engage in gossip.