Is Gossip All Bad?

We has a great conversation last night about gossip (at Mount Madonna School – amazing place). On our school climate survey the lowest scoring question was, “People here don’t gossip much.”

One of the parents pointed out that gossip isn’t necessarily done with harmful intent — people could say they “gossip” because they are concerned and sharing important information. Personally I wouldn’t call that gossip. Princeton WordNet says:

n 1: light informal conversation for social occasions
2: a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people; “the divorce caused much gossip”
3: a person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others

So there is a dimension that’s just “chit-chat,” but there’s that “often malicious” in there. What do you think? Is there something inherently malicious or undermining in gossip?

Anyway, one of my favorite questions: How do we use the tendency to gossip in a positive way?
What’s so good about this is that it acknowledges people are as they are — and we still have choice… and we still have the opportunity to influence others. It’s a very strengths-oriented approach: What do people do well, and how can that come into service of a larger purpose?

4 Replies to “Is Gossip All Bad?”

  1. There is no such thing as “positive gossip”, and even if you try to use it in a positive way…you will end up gossiping…

  2. Thanks for posting a comment, Luis. It seems like some people think they are being positive when they gossip. Is that different?

  3. Josh:

    Looking again at your post, let´s see if we agree on the definition we are using for gossip: “a light informal conversation for social occations is not gossip”, it is simple “light and informal conversation” (for example: how are the kids, work, weather…) The malicious talking is what were refer to gossip. right?

    But people love to gossip, out of envy or anger, helped by the quick tongue we all have. If you wish to serve the larger purpose, you confront the person you will “gossip about”. (and try to help…)

    “Thinking” you are being positive when you gossip if finding a way to justify your actions…

  4. Gossip is not inherently malicious. However, it is inherently one of the lowest and most questionable forms of communication. Whether positive or negative information is being relayed, the subject of the communication is not present to confirm the accuracy of the information being shared. Gossip invariably involves misinformation, half-truths, and one-sided, myopic points of view. In addition, talking about any subject that is none of my business is really none of my business. It is unlikely that sharing or listening to any gossip will lead to greater happiness in the world. So, at the very least, it is a waste of time and effort. What’s my advice? Avoid listening to gossip. Do not believe any gossip. When someone attempts to share gossip with you, politely let them know that you are not interested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *