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Gregory Grove   
Monday, 07 August 2006

Gossip

The definition of gossip, according to Cambridge Dictionaries Online is:

Conversation or reports about other people's private lives which might be unkind, disapproving or not true.

If we accept this definition, then I suspect that, at one time or another, we have all been guilty of gossip.

The question, of course, is: why do we gossip? What is the payoff (humans never do anything without there being a payoff)? And what are the effects of gossip?

Malicious gossip intends to cause harm to another, usually for revenge or for self-promotion.

It has been said that there are two ways to make yourself look good: (1) Be good and (2) Make others look bad.

If I surreptitiously point out to my manager that Fred took a long lunch yesterday and got back to the office more than slightly inebriated, then my error-ridden report doesn't seem too serious. I score at the expense of Fred.

Or I have an argument with my wife and comment to our mutual acquaintance that no matter how hard I try she always finds something about me to complain about.

This is a very subtle form of malicious gossip - it says nothing and everything. The motive here is to win sympathy and respect for my steadfastness at the expense of my wife.

Of course we all see things through our own filters, and what we don't like in ourselves we project onto others - we assign our own perceived weaknesses to those around us. So in fact, when we gossip, we are saying more about ourselves than about anybody else!

Apart from the obvious damage we do to the third party with our gossip, there are other less obvious effects; the person listening to our gossip will inevitably begin to wonder when it will be his turn to be on the receiving end, when it will be to our advantage to put him down to others. We may then ourselves become a victim of gossip: "Mary never has anything good to say about anyone..."

An even less obvious effect of our gossip is that we cause negative energy to be directed at our "victim". If our gossip is accepted as true, then people will look at the "victim" and wonder what else he gets up to, of what other "evil" he is capable.

Another function of gossip is self-promotion. We all seek to look good and to be well regarded - whatever that may mean for each of us. And what better way to look important than to know "stuff" about other people - that they drink too much / that they are having an affair / that they were arrested / that they beat their wife...?

The extroverts have the advantage over the introverts here. The extroverts are the ones who are likely to be holding forth with lots of advice and opinions. If they are prone to gossip, they will seek to impress others with their inside information about the doings of others.

What they fail to see is that this will frequently have the opposite effect to that which they are seeking - they could well be seen as a bore or self-important and self-absorbed.

And of course gossip does not have to be malicious.

We can "gossip" in a positive manner - that is, look for something positive to say about those around us - it just requires a change of attitude.

What we put out into the universe is exactly what will come back to us. The next time you are about to say something about someone else, realise that you are in fact choosing the sort of energy you would like the universe to reflect back at you.

Although it is lovely "to have the dirt" on someone, look at your motives before you pass it on.

If your motive is to warn or inform, then it does not qualify as gossip - in fact it may be your duty to speak out. But if your motive is to score "points" in one way or another, introspect and ask yourself: WHY?

Awareness is everything.

Gregory Grove is a Reiki Master and a certified Life Coach who works in the Johannesburg area. You can learn more about him and the work he does at www.thehealinggrove.co.za. Contact him on 082 927 2300 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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