The Etiquette of Gossiping

2년 전

Who Cares, you Say?

  • Rumors can be Harmless. How do you know? Have you ever heard of unintended consequences?

  • Gossiping can be Fun. Fun for Whom?

  • Rumors can be Interesting. Are you bored?

I'm a believer in Freedom of Speech so where does one draw the line between gossip, story-telling or lies?

Have you ever known someone who wanted to be first to tell you of someone's illness or misfortune? Did they take delight in knowing they were the first to tell you? Is that gossip, or just the need for some poor soul to be noticed? Did you take this information and re-tell, or ask this person to exclude you from any gossip?

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source Secret

Okay, so We're All Guilty

We hear juicy gossip and we get online to our friends, or IM with this all important information, as though it will rock the world. When the same bit of titillating information gets over-blown, added to, and twisted is that our fault? Maybe. Someone could get seriously hurt, get their reputation ruined or lose their livelihood.

We May Never Know the Consequences of Gossip

So, is there any etiquette to gossip? Probably not. The best we can do is keep the information to ourselves and hope we don't get blamed for any possible unintended consequences. You never know when some clever lawyer is willing to file a slander suit against all parties involved.

Are there Dangerous Elements to the Rumors?

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source elderly woman

If you hear misdeeds involving innocent children, disabled, or the elderly that may be the time to step up and get involved by contacting professionals. Otherwise, choose whom you listen to carefully.


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There are four reasons that a person might tell a story about someone else:

  1. Trying to get help for the subject
  2. Schadenfreude
  3. Bolster a sense of self-importance
  4. Get advice for self if the gossiper is intimately involved with the subject who might be a family member or boss or coworker.

The first three are typically destructive. The gossiper might convince themselves that they are just "trying to help" but gossip doesn't usually produce the kinds of results that the subject might need.

The last assumes that the person hearing the gossiper's story is a trustworthy friend. If the friend is not trustworthy, the story can be further spread to the gossiper's detriment.


Thank you for your input, and for the new word: Schadenfreude- joy at another's misery.

The biggest thing I've observed about gossipers is...if they're willing to gossip to you about others, they'll gossip to others about you. I tend to avoid them for that reason alone!

The worst kind of gossip IMO is the one that puts their own words in other people's mouths as they spread mean rumors. Then the wronged party gets mad at the wrong person and all kinds of confusion results.

I agree. Here's an example of how an original story can turn to gossip. At a party you hear a comment from across the room. As it moves from party to party you notice the comments have been changed in minor increments. These small changes on their own may seem benign, however when enough of them are added without clarification or correction, the story is forever altered.


Yes, gossip can often times grow on its own. If conversations were quoted verbatim and with clarity the risk of changing into ugly gossip can be greatly reduced. But simple words passing from person to person such as could have --changes to might have and finally drops to the complete lie --Did.