If you talk to a therapist, counselor or addiction specialist you will not find a specific category of diagnosis for people that constantly gossip. However, there is no doubt that some people have an addition to spreading misinformation, private information or even lies about others. Gossip can be a devastating issue to deal with and one that can ruin a person’s life. However, the person that is chronically and constantly gossiping about others may be running the same risk of ruining a relationship, alienating themselves from friends and family and creating a life of isolation, high risk of depression and lack of positive social interactions.
Why people gossip is an interesting question. Most people start gossiping as a way to interact with others or to feel better about themselves by pointing out all the faults in others. If they receive the attention they want for this behavior it is reinforced, creating a positive association between gossip and socialization or getting attention. Over time, even if the gossip is no longer positively received, the person continues to use this as a way to communicate and interact with others. Unfortunately there is always someone ready to listen to gossip, so the gossiper just keeps moving from relationship to relationship to get their need for attention met.
Gossiping is never a positive way to communicate. To determine if your communication is gossip or is an honest, open expression of your opinions or thoughts examine the following:
- Do I know what I am saying to be true and will it help increase understanding of the particular issue I am discussing if I disclose the information?
- Do I feel connected with the people I talk to or am I saying this to get their attention and to start a conversation that I know they will participate in?
- What is my purpose in making this statement?
Gossip can be used as a way to feel a part of the group for people that lack the skills to communicate about meaningful and authentic issues. There is help through therapy, coaching and learning how to effectively interact with others that can eliminate gossip from your life and allow you to have meaningful, positive communication.