I hate gossip. Hate it with a passion.

The definition of gossip I’ve relied upon is that if a person isn’t part of a problem or the solution, then conversation with that person about someone else equals gossip.

And gossip is incredibly damaging.

I’ve lived my professional life understanding and living the confidentiality that I learned in law school. I’m certainly not immune to the desire to share information about another, to be considered “in the know,” at the same time, I’ve also learned to hold some information closely.

I’m also a bit rabidly loyal and protective of my friends; so, when I hear gossip and when that’s about a friend of mine, I see red. Like bright flashing red lights that cannot be ignored and I have to act, I have to speak up.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

A study out of Florida State University (FSU) found that adult women tend to gossip about other women to make themselves look better by comparison. The author of the study, Tania Reynolds, found that women tend to spread rumors about other women who appeared to pose a threat, even if the offense was something as innocuous as being more physically attractive or having other superficial gifts. Another interesting finding from the study was that highly competitive women tended to gossip more.

Reynolds posits that the first step to breaking this ugly habit is for everyone to be aware of the tendency.

“We can make strategic decisions to reduce that in ourselves . . . and choose our friends carefully. If a woman is gossiping to us, she’s probably also gossiping about us. What we say about others, people instinctively attribute to us,” she explains. “Even if you’re competitive, the better strategy is actually to spread positive information, because people will attribute these great traits to you.

It has been the greatest mystery I’ve encountered in my adult life, that grown women gossip like middle or high school girls. I don’t get it and it’s incredibly damaging. I’m a highly competitive woman and I get the inclination to gossip, but we must all curb that tendency, that destructive pattern.

After all, we could all use some positive thoughts directed towards us.

18 thoughts on “Gossip

  1. When I was teaching I noticed that the girls gossiped about each other all the time and the boys didn’t care a bit. The main problem was that the girls picked on the week link in the group. They never gossiped about the girl who was strong. And it was very destructive.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That’s a very good definition, and I found your information about highly competitive women gossiping both interesting and saddening. I always hope that when women get into leadership positions—in business, government, etc.,—they will bring a more humane and collaborative approach. Sometimes that’s the case, but evidently not often enough.
    On a separate issue, when you have a chance, please let me know your thoughts about my offer.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Amen to that last, full paragraph. I remember when I graduated from high school I thought: “Yes, this is it! No more pettiness, no more stupid frivolity. Everyone’s going to be responsible adults!” How little did I know…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, my friend. Apologies for the late response — I have discovered a bunch of pending comments now that I got a new computer and am not accessing WordPress via my phone and iPad. 🙂


  4. My mother used to stop mid sentence when she caught herself gossiping and say, “I’m not going to say it. It wasn’t very nice.” I used to get frustrated with her because she would always leave me hanging, but now I appreciate her for the lesson.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Abigail,

    I enjoy your blog! I wrote an article in MAMM: Women, Cancer and Community many years ago about what I called “illness gossip.” You’re right–gossip is more than just annoying, it’s also potentially damaging.

    Thanks for visiting and liking several posts on my blog, Cancer Hits the Streets!


    Liked by 1 person

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