Why people gossip and how to avoid it

Gossip is unconstrained and often derogatory conversation about other people, and can involve betraying a confidence and spreading sensitive information or hurtful judgments.

Research shows that people who gossip the most have very high levels of anxiety. They are generally not particularly popular because they cannot be trusted. Spreading private information or negative judgments is painful to others and reflects poorly on the gossiper.

Why people gossip and how to avoid it

Why do people gossip?

1. To feel superior

People who don’t feel good about themselves temporarily feel better when they judge others negatively.

2.  Out of boredom

When people can’t generate interesting discussions based on knowledge or ideas, gossip can rouse people’s interest.

3. Out of envy

People gossip in order to hurt those whose popularity, talents, or lifestyle they envy.

4. To feel like part of the group

People gossip to feel as though they belong to the group. Yet, when acceptance is based on being “in on a secret,” it is not based on a person’s identity, but on exclusion or maliciousness.

5. For attention

A person gets to be the center of attention temporarily while divulging a piece of gossip. Yet, spreading gossip or rumors is like buying attention; it’s temporary and has little foundation.

6. Out of anger or unhappiness

A person can derive a sense of retribution with disparaging remarks.

7. Insecurity

8. Resentment

Why people gossip and how to avoid it

Is it always wrong to talk about others?

Gossip is not inherently bad; it plays an important role in keeping our society connected

Most people have a natural curiosity about what’s going on among people in the community. Some of the best books are biographies that tell the life stories of other people.

However, the best biographies give the reader an understanding of the nuance and complexity of the person’s character through facts. They are not based on one-sided, offensive judgments of the person.

How to avoid gossip

Respect everyone’s right to privacy.

Turn down invitations to pick others apart.

Try changing the subject when a friend wants to have a bad-mouthing session.

Ask them (tactfully) to talk about something else, and tell them that you’re trying to break yourself of the negative gossip habit.

Ask yourself the benefit of sharing this information.

Invite the gossiper to talk directly to the person they are concerned about.

Why people gossip and how to avoid it


Gossiping shows others the gossiper’s insecurity and meanspiritedness. It also leaves everyone involved feeling as though they’ve just eaten a bad apple.

Ultimately, insight into the intricacies of human relations and behavior is more interesting, uplifting, and enlightening than one-dimensional judgments and rumors

Why people gossip and how to avoid it 

By Olalekan Awodehinde

Olalekan Awodehinde is a seasoned investigative reporter.

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