I’m a Gossip–And, It’s Good For Me!

18 Feb

My neighbor just left after spending about an hour and a half with me, sipping tea and chatting. Yes, it’s all very 1950’s, but alas–this is the beauty of freelancing! As we were visiting, I noticed myself slipping into teenage-girl mode, gossiping about people we both know. And, all the while, I knew it was wrong.

Or, was it?

I thought I would do a little research on the subject, and it turns out that gossiping can actually be good for you–if you do it the right way. According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “Used properly, gossip can actually help us learn more about ourselves, better gauge our position in society and possibly protect ourselves from harm.”

And, I’ve also read that females who participate in “gossip” actually experience an increase in the bonding hormone that we often associate with mother-infant interaction. When we gossip with another female, we are bonding with them and releasing more of the hormone responsible for establishing relationships.gossip

“While there are those who love to dismiss gossip, it actually does have a value,” Jodi R. R. Smith a 45-year-old human resources professional in Boston told Today. “Gossip tells members of a group what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable. As a new member of a group, such as when you start a new job, listening to what your new co-workers are chatting about can provide you with really valuable information about how to act on your new job.”

But, gossiping has a downside. If you’re considered a “gossip,” some people won’t feel comfortable around you and won’t trust you. And, that can marginalize you with your peer group.

When it comes to conflict resolution, gossip can be a form of triangulation. For example, if I’m having a conflict with Person A, I might go to Person B and vent my frustration. The good news? I might release some steam and gain important insight into the conflict. The bad news? I may be avoiding conflict by bringing another person into the fold.

Bottom line? Gossip can be good–and bad for you. But, as with anything in life, moderation is key. Too much gossip, and you’ll be untrustworthy. Too little and you risk learning about yourself and others.


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