By spreading rumors, the gossiper believes that his gaze is justified and that he is driven by good aspirations – first of all, to warn the interlocutor what to expect from this or that person. However, in reality, his motives are more ambiguous.
“Hearing is passed on to“ ours ”, which means about“ strangers ”. Strangers for a gossip are those who are higher in social status, richer. By spreading gossip about them, he joins their authority, ”says Doctor of Psychology Alexei Sitnikov. Gossip is a way to show the uniqueness of your relationship with the interlocutor: by sharing information with him, we emphasize that we have special trust in him.
Speaking badly about others, the gossip secretly praises himself. “And he compliments his confidant:“ I tell you this because you are not like them either, ”continues Alexei Sitnikov.
However, even if the gossiper manages to win the interlocutor’s trust, it will be fragile: dividing the world into “good” and “bad”, the lover of backbiting makes his counterpart worry about whether he will go to the camp of the “bad”.
Lack of self-esteem
Why not make social connections by talking about your interests and accomplishments rather than the shortcomings of others? “The gossip wants to stand out, but deep down he is afraid that as a person he is not of interest,” explains Alexey Sitnikov. He talks about neighbors and colleagues because he is sure that what he can tell about his life is boring.
“People who speak badly about others are most often not satisfied with their life or any aspect of it,” Alexey Sitnikov is sure. – This dissatisfaction generates anger in them, to admit which means to admit their weaknesses. Therefore, this anger is transferred to others – primarily to those who have managed to achieve success where the gossip himself has not been able to assert himself. “
Justify your weaknesses
Often a person says about others: “she is greedy”, “he is egocentric”, pointing out the character traits of other people with whom it is difficult for him to come to terms in himself. This is how one of the mechanisms of psychological defense is manifested – projection: we attribute to others that part of ourselves that we unconsciously cannot accept in ourselves.
“I myself was the object of gossip”
Natalia, 43 years old, translator
“In the mid-80s, my husband was sent on a business trip to Iran for several years. There were strict safety rules, and the cultural barrier did not allow making acquaintances with local residents. Therefore, the social circle for me was limited to the wives of my husband’s colleagues. It was a closed world, the inhabitants of which had little to do with each other. Therefore, the basis of all our conversations was made up of gossip about each other. I accepted these rules and even enjoyed them until I myself became the object of gossip. This hurt me terribly, and only then I realized how harmful and empty our chatter was. Realizing this, I actively engaged in self-education and, returning home, received a second higher education – so I was not only able to occupy myself with an interesting job, but also felt that I have something to be proud of. “
What to do?
Recognize your emotions
Gossip is often based on strong emotion or unfulfilled deep need. Try to figure out: what makes you want to gossip? How do you feel at this moment? Perhaps in this way you will understand that the essence of the problem is not in the object of your gossip, but in yourself.
Don’t speak without thinking
It’s always helpful to ask yourself, is it really necessary to disclose this information? Yes, it will allow for a moment to attract the attention of the interlocutor, but what next? Sooner or later your words will reach the person you are talking about, and this will not have the best effect on your reputation.
Find yourself another activity
Often times, people gossip simply because they are bored and the lives of others are an easy topic of conversation. Try to find other common interests with those around you that will lay a different, positive foundation for communication.
Advice to others
Rotating in an environment where gossip is accepted, you risk becoming addicted to it yourself. To avoid this, use the technique of “active listening”: try to understand what emotions are driving the interlocutor, and paraphrase his statements, clarifying the meaning of the words. For example: “You speak so emotionally because you are angry with him” or “This person has achieved a lot” … “The gossip does not exist on its own – he needs an interlocutor,” explains Alexey Sitnikov. “So the best way to avoid gossip is to ignore it. If you yourself have become the object of gossip, do not make excuses: remaining “above the fight”, you will disarm the gossip. “