Why Do People Gossip, and Does It Annoy You When You Hear it?

Over the years, our women’s group has discussed many exciting and challenging topics, yet at one of our meetings, the subject of “gossiping” initiated interesting and energized responses.  I believe most people have indulged in the act of gossiping, whether we are aware we are doing so or not.

What is gossiping

Gossip: Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: the endless gossip about Hollywood stars.

How does gossiping show up in daily life?

Gossiping has been around for as long as people have been alive. Gossip probably permeates many of our everyday conversations.  We aren’t even aware that we may be gossiping when we speak about others.  Most of the time, we believe it’s a form of sharing between friends or co-workers.  Is it sharing or gossiping?

Examples of gossiping

  • Describing someone using negative words
  • Repeating a story a friend told you about another person
  • Sharing a story someone told you about themselves and didn’t check whether they were ok with sharing it.
  • Telling stories about another person without checking the facts
  • Talking secretly about a person’s sexuality
  • Talking about celebrities as if you know them
  • Sharing a negative story about another person, even if truthful

Why do people gossip?

There are many reasons why people may gossip:

  • Do people talk about others because they feel a lack of power?
  • Do they need recognition and feel they have control when talking about someone else, especially behind their back?
  • A need to feel superior
  • Being part of the group
  • One is angry at another person – seeking revenge
  • Maybe needs attention

Whatever the reason for gossiping, is there any value to gossiping?

Working Definition of Gossiping

Given the responses in our group meeting, it’s clear that there is never one perception of what is genuinely gossiping.  So, let’s try this one:

If what you have to say would upset the person you are talking about, then it is gossiping

This definition creates compassion for others, so the need for sharing gossip will diminish.

Good gossip

Is there such a thing as positive gossiping – saying only good things about another person?  If we understand that we are not perfect, nor are others, then we can enjoy the goodness in each of us, so why not share it? A non-hurtful form of gossip.

Have You Ever Been Hurt by Gossip?

How does it feel to know that others have been talking about you, even if the words are valid? Have you ever been on the receiving end of rumors spread about you or your loved ones? Think how it feels.

What To Do When Others Gossip

If you feel uncomfortable listening to another person gossiping, do you do anything or listen even though you know it isn’t right?  Or do you challenge the other person?  We all want to be liked or considered part of a group, so it may be hard to challenge another person, yet some of us feel lousy when we don’t actively negate another person’s gossiping.

Your Thoughts

What do you think about the adage “if you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say it”?  Do you think there is any value to gossiping?  Do you, like most people, engage in gossiping?  Are you aware that you are gossiping?  If so, how do you feel about yourself?

Women’s Group Topic

Try this excellent topic for a women’s group. Has this stimulated your thoughts on this topic with the many questions to discuss in your group? It’s a much larger topic than we thought at the start of our meeting. And it certainly was enjoyed by all.

Be well,

“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
(Pat Brill)


Other Topics You May Be Interested In
Do You Do Random Acts of Kindness?
When Friends Hurt
Cleaning Out My ‘Guilt’ Closet 




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