Ancient Jewish sages said, "Gossip kills three: the teller, the listener, and the subject." The damage spreads like wildfire, with chronic tale-bearers ultimately becoming negative, someone others mistrust. The gossip victim's reputation is sullied, often unfairly. And the Talmud says that the listener is most damaged of all, because he alone had the power to turn away or change the subject, helping to stop the defamation of a third party. Remember, they don't call gossip "dirt" for nothing.