by Shola Okubote

From classrooms to family reunions, about the most scandalous celebrity and the plain Jane living next door, we all enjoy the pleasures of talking about other people. When it’s good, it binds you and your friends together, but selfishness, envy and competitive lifestyles can drive gossip down fatal channels. Negative gossip about third parties, who of course have no opportunity to defend themselves, is a dangerous game that can have a negative effect on both the gossip and the victim. Here are five things you need to know about good gossip;

Motive! Motive! Motive! : People gossip for all sorts of reasons, it could be to get stuff off their chest, to satisfy their curiosity, or just as part of a harmless conversation. For whatever reason you are spreading that gist, make sure it’s not because you are envious. Envy makes people feel good when they have succeeded in pointing out the fault of others for the whole world to see that they are not any special.

Don’t Twist Things: The dirtier the gist, the more interesting the gossip is, some people are so quick to exaggerate a story and add some lies to it to make it more sensational. Before you do this, remember this is someone’s life you are dealing with, don’t say something that you know will damage someone else’s reputation just because of the thrill of sensationalism.

He who brings a tale takes two away: If you have to say it, then you have to be careful who you are talking to. Run far away from people who obviously yearn for the drama and thrill of gossip passionately, most times they cannot be trusted. Remember that whoever gossip with you will likely gossip about you too.

Sign your name to it: Assume that everything you say will be repeated, and if you are not willing to stand by it when confronted, then you shouldn’t start it in the first place. If your conversation starts with “Don’t tell anyone I told you” or “I know I shouldn’t be saying this”, then you should really shut up and keep it to yourself.

Don’t oil it: Try this with a number of people, whisper a sentence to the first person’s ear and let the sentence be passed on in whispers until it gets back to you. There is a high chance that the sentence you will hear won’t be the same thing you said at the beginning of the game. Some words would have been added, some lost, and some substituted such that the sentence will have a new meaning entirely. Stories are like wheels, every hand it passes oils it!

Let your guilt guide you: If you are not sure about it, if you feel guilty saying it, if saying it is going to hurt the person involved, then don’t. Sometimes guilt is a moral compass that nudges you when you are about to do something you know you shouldn’t do. Obey it.

Don’t act on it: Always give a benefit of a doubt, chances are that what you have been told has been exaggerated or never even happened at all, remember people’s agenda for passing around the information will be different from yours so there is always potential for lies. Don’t judge people by what rumours say about them, it’s important to make sure you consider the source it came from, people do lie.

Writer: Shola Okubote blogs at www.femmelounge.org and tweets as @femmelounge

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