Gossip: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

“Pssst…. I’ve Got Something To Tell You!”

“Pssst…Have You Heard About…”

We’ve all done it. We’ve all gossiped about others.

We’ve all hated it when its’ been found out that others were gossiping about us.  To the credit of many, you have attempted to stop gossiping – with varying degrees of success.

Gossip can serve a positive function and we will get to that shortly. But, generally speaking, even most participants in the practice would agree that gossip is an insidious, cruel, and destructive behavior.

Our society is addicted to gossip at a level that has never been seen before. Even what passes as “news” is often no more than speculation, lies and innuendo intended to serve an agenda and diminish the standing of a perceived foe.

What does gossip serve? What’s really going on with gossip?

And how can we take the human urge to gossip and transform it into the equally human impulse to create something positive, constructive and loving?

*      *      *      *      *

Gossip is always about Power first.  It is also why gossip feels murky when you participate and instinctively know it is undermining the position – and ultimate well-being – of another.

Yet you can’t stop yourself. Why?

Addiction to schadenfreude, the emotion of enjoyment from seeing or hearing of the troubles of others, has a brain chemistry component like any addiction. It is, however, only a partial explanation for the urge to gossip.

The second great force, after the desire for power over others, is the need to belong. People – being human – are group-joining creatures and when we sense exclusion from one group system we seek to restore it somewhere else.

Gossip is a mechanism for not only achieving that satisfaction, but it is also linked to the survival instinct of our reptilian brain. After all, it was by approval of the tribe that we belonged to a clan (today we call it civilization!) and we could feel safe and appreciated.

With gossip we attempt to create an environment that secures power and safety somewhere other than in the relationship we are talking about.

Gossip is a response to feeling threatened, weak, ignored, misunderstood or powerless. It is a way to feel better. And achieving that vital need can justify making stuff up, innuendo, and righteousness.

We invite you to take a look at how the forces of power, addiction and wanting-to-belong are playing out in a scenario in your life right now.

*      *      *      *      *
The damage of gossip lies in the corrosive results that occur when one person or group sits as virtual judge, jury and executioner of another.

It’s no secret that exclusion and separation has rarely ended well in the course of human history! It has been the source of much drama, suffering and pain.

Yet we keep doing it.

It’s time for the good news about gossip!

There is always a positive intention hidden beneath it.

Gossip can be transformed from a “Power Over” interaction to an EMPOWERMENT conversation.

If – and it’s a big if – YOU will be the person in the gossip that is committed to shifting the conversation.

You must be the one who sees what really wants to happen.

For example, if someone is complaining about someone you both know, see it is an expression of hurt that needs healing and integration, not an opportunity to collude against someone who is not there.

Remember these empowerment points:

  • Gossip is the mechanism that reaches out to shine light on what is buried or hidden.
  • Gossip is an attempt to clarify the despair or anger coming from the exclusion or collapse that is taking place in a relationship.
  • Gossip is a request for support in making a fundamental shift in direction. It is a reaching out that says, “I don’t want to be left alone. I want you to stay with me.”

As the one who shifts the gossip conversation, here are a few guidelines to help you stay on track:

  1.  Ban collusion and use language that tones down any us-vs-them adversity.  (Example: “I can see you are upset and need to talk about this. I’m willing to listen and I’m not willing to collude or gossip with you against ______”)
  2. Talk about the person or group being talked about with respect and inclusion. Hold the person or people with respect while also separate from the behavior or system that offends.
  3. Use requests and accountability to direct the conversation from gossip to empowerment. (Example: “What do you want? What will you do? When will you do it?”)

Start with these ideas and begin to transform the powerful energy that lies behind the gossip.

This is important personal development work for anyone who wants to serve positive growth and change.

Learning about the complexity of gossip – and how to transform it – is an exciting entry into the world of Danger, Sex and Magic.

Leave a Reply

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