Gossip comes in many different forms:
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Telling lies about someone
- Speculating about someone’s motives
- Over-sharing details
- Telling stories about someone that puts them in a bad light
Whether gossip comes from malicious intent or carelessness, the consequences are the same. Relationships are damaged. Feelings are hurt, and there’s no way to take back words. James compares the power of foolish words to that of a forest fire.
5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
A single foolish sentence can create an insecurity in someone.
A prank gone wrong can ruin a reputation.
An over shared detail can permanently destroy trust in a relationship.
Your words can start fires which you can’t put out with more words!
FOUR CONSEQUENCES OF GOSSIP
#1 | Trust is Broken
Talking about someone instead of talking to them
Inherent to gossip is that you’re behaving in an untrustworthy manner towards the person you’re gossiping about. All gossip involves you doing something which someone else wouldn’t want you to do. Whether you’re not behaving trustworthy with information they have given you, or you’re not behaving trustworthy with their reputation, you are breaking trust.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- If I share this detail, would the person it’s about feel they can no longer trust me with information?
- If I share this story, will the person to whom it belongs feel they can’t trust what I’ll say when they’re not around?
#2 | Reputations are Destroyed
Gossip always involves false, out of context, or damaging information being spread about someone; Someone’s reputation is damaged every time.
Obviously, when you lie about someone, you spread falsehoods about them, but you also spread falsehoods when you share information without context. While the specific statement may be true, without context, you spread information that is miss leading. This damages their reputation. Likewise, when you say something negative about someone, obviously you’re negatively affecting their reputation.
What we often forget is that when we gossip, we make ourselves look bad. As we’ve all heard, “If someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you.” By gossiping, you make it known that you are a gossip. Therefore, you your reputation suffers.
#3 | A Problem Between Two People Becomes a Web of People
One of the most common ways we inadvertently gossip is when we vent to someone about a situation. As part of our emotional healing process, we share our experience with someone. Sometimes we share information that we shouldn’t share or we share with too many people.
Suddenly, what started as a conflict between two people grows into a conflict between a group of people. With each new person who joins the conversation, the web becomes exponentially more complex.
This leads to the final consequence of gossip:
#4 | A Direct Solution Turns Into a Web of Problems
When a conflict first arises between two people, it’s just between two people. Resolution only requires those two people to talk through their differences. When either person involved in the conflict share their frustration with someone else, they pass along the conflict and potential emotional frustrations.
This leads to a problem.
When the problem is resolved between the two people actually involved, the other people involved aren’t present for the resolution. They see someone share a highly emotional experience, but they hear about the reconciliation in summary. They may have the damage of the initial conflict, but they have none of the healing of the resolution; They simply know it’s resolved.
Gossip grows conflicts.
We all have a tendency to gossip, and it only complicates our lives. Each of us would do well to identify the ways in which we gossip, and intentionally stop ourselves when we see ourselves heading down that path.