I really want to tell you something right now. I mean I really really really want to but I can’t. It’s about my kids. It’s really exciting and it’s definitely a proud parenting moment. But as I said I can’t. Their teachers sent a note home in their backpacks that said. “Your kids did great on “this” but please don’t tell anyone. It’s a sensitive issue and could make other parents and kids feel bad if they knew.” I 100% agree but I still really really really want to tell you! I know that’s more about bragging than gossip but I imagine the feelings are similar.
Holding onto secret information is hard and is often served with a large portion of guilt. What is the first thing you want to do when someone tells you a secret? It’s usually tell Someone! Then our self-control jumps in to prevent or delay the dreaded gossip (hopefully). It’s kind of like holding in gas right? You don’t want to let it out but at some point…
Anyway, I was relieved to read via NPR about this new study out of UC Riverside that discusses how gossiping is not necessarily bad and can have some good benefits…
… a new study finds that people spend about 52 minutes per day, on average, talking to someone about someone else who is not present…But here’s the surprise: Despite the assumption that most gossip is trash talk, the study finds that the vast majority of gossip is nonjudgmental chitchat.
“We actually found that the overwhelming majority of gossip was neutral,” says study author Megan Robbins, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, who studies how people’s social interactions are related to their health and well-being. “About three-quarters of the conversation we heard in our sampled conversations was neither positive nor negative,” Robbins says.
I like reframing gossip to be about social connections rather than guilt laden rhetoric:
Think about your own conversations with a family member or friend: You talk about everyday things that keep you connected. You share that your daughter got her driver’s license or your uncle has a kidney stone.”Much of it is just documenting facts, sharing information,” Cone says.
So the next time someone says to you:
Not everything you hear is good for talk. Japanese (on gossip)
What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth. Jewish Proverb
The house of the loud talker, leaks. African proverb Zulu Tribe
don’t take it so seriously. Unless of course you are gossiping about me!