Why Do People Spread Gossip, and Why Do Others Listen?

Gossip ruins lives. It’s worth taking some time to study it so you can help rid your workplace of it. And one of the first steps is understanding the reasons that people are such willing participants in it.

Why do people spread gossip? Usually the person spreading rumors has a bad self-image, so they try to pull others down to compensate. Seriously, think about this. If you have gossips in your workplace, are they people who have their stuff together? I’m not talking about the bluster and confidence on the surface, but what’s really inside. Are they grounded and satisfied? Not bloody likely, or they wouldn’t feel the need to level the playing field.

According to workplace research, the content of gossip is 80 percent inaccurate. That’s the proof that the real intention is to hurt others, not to solve a problem, even if they pretend otherwise.

Gossip is a two-way transaction, of course. So why do people listen to it? Two reasons: First, they want to feel “in on it,” partly so they aren’t on the receiving end of it. I hate to tell you – that will not protect you. If you keep gossip alive as a part of your workplace culture, it’s like feeding a rattlesnake and letting it roam the halls. Eventually it’ll bite you too.

Second, people listen because they too like the little thrill of supposedly putting themselves above someone else. They’ll tell themselves they aren’t the kind of person who would start it, but what’s the harm in listening in? Plenty, of course, because gossip needs an audience to stay alive.

Understanding the motivations of the gossips and their audiences is an important step in fixing the problem for good.

So what about you? Are you part of the solution—or part of the problem?

If you participate in the gossip game—whether as pitcher or catcher—call it quits. You know better. If the Queen of England came to your home today, you’d act better, wouldn’t you? Well, act better right now. Be the person your dog thinks you are. If you’re the one with a poor self-image, it will do a lot for your self-esteem to keep your nose clean from gossip. If you don’t, you are virtually guaranteed to come to a really bad day and maybe even lose your job. One way or another, the result is always ugly.

So make a commitment here and now to rise above it all.

One Response to “Why Do People Spread Gossip, and Why Do Others Listen?”

  1. John Messimer says:

    People who promote peace, good will and joy will continue on an upward path. Those who are mired in gossip, fear and suspicion will usually remain there and get worse. We humans operate under two emotions; fear or love, choose love.

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