Having been a recent victim of irresponsible gossip, I propose the three golden rules of responsible gossip.
1. If you want to gossip, be discreet.
Gossip should be done discreetly and in private, among people you trust, like other discreet activities such as bathroom activities and situations in which you would be unclothed. This is because like those activities, gossip can be offensive to people who do not wish to hear it. Also, gossiping is not meant for anyone else to hear other than the people you want to let hear, otherwise you would not be gossiping but confronting the person you want to gossip about, yes? So make sure the person you’re gossiping about is not within hearing distance.
2. Gossip is for personal emotional release.
Usually when you are in a gossipy mood, it is because you are frustrated, excited or scandalised and want to share this emotion with someone you trust or is familiar with the situation you want to gossip about. Remember that the gossip instinct is ultimately about your own emotional release. Therefore, your listener has the right to choose how he or she wishes to react to your sharing of gossip. If the listener is inclined (which the probability of it is most likely, hence you choosing to tell that person in the first place), fair enough. But if the listener does not choose to take your word at face value and prefers to judge the situation for him or herself through other means, do not take offense or think the person is distrustful of your judgement. After all, the point of you gossiping is for your own emotional release, not for passing judgement to people who should make their own based on their personal experiences of the situation.
3. The best person to talk about me is me.
Sometimes, we gossip so much for our own emotional release and also because we do not want to strain the relationship between ourselves and the people we gossip about. However, in doing so, we forget that by gossiping we are hurting and straining the relationship. The people we gossip about may not realise that (yet), but we do. If you really want to solve people issues the right way, especially with people you care about, you should be ‘gossiping’ with the person him/herself. It may not fulfill your desire for emotional release, but better than that, you can resolve a situation and improve your relationship from there onwards. It may be difficult to approach the person, and things may not turn out as you hoped, but you tried, and your conscience would be clear for that.
Ultimately, you have to remember that gossip is a vice, and like all vices it has consequences. Karma is a bitch! If you are caught gossiping, face the music and admit it. While you may not think you’re wrong and have the freedom to talk about what you please, remember that people’s feelings are at stake when they discover you were talking unpleasantly about them. How would you feel if the same were done to you? That said, gossip can be healthy in some ways, but often misused in other ways. So, if you feel the need to gossip, you should observe the three golden rules I’ve mentioned and hopefully life will be drama-free!
Do you have your own golden rules for gossiping?