Did you know that January 12th is National Hot Tea day? Inspired by this celebration of the delightful hot beverage we at SEL4CT decided that we should spill some tea on the pros and cons of spilling the tea!
Gossiping, also known as “spilling the tea,” has been typically seen as a negative aspect of human behavior. However, as more and more research comes out there are actually some benefits to gossiping. When most people think about gossip, we immediately think about someone spreading rumors or misinformation about another individual – while gossip can be simply defined as anyone discussing another individual that is not currently present. Sounds like bad news, right?
So how might gossip be beneficial? We know that sounds crazy in the least, but gossip can actually improve one’s social health. According to BBC gossip can help build connections between people, and interestingly one study showed that most gossip shared in a workplace is neutral gossip. That is, most of the gossip is about where a colleague is vacationing, how their children are doing, who is home sick that week, etc. This gossip is actually important to our social relationships regardless of the space this gossip occurs in as it helps us to build relationships with others.
Author David Adam, discusses this importance of gossip as community building in their article “Gossip drives social bonding and helps people learn.” Adam explains that gossip not only helps us to build relationships with others, but it allows us to learn socially through others’ mistakes. In other words, gossip teaches us what others have done well and what others have done poorly, helping to influence our own behavior. For example, a student might not scream out answers in the middle of class if they heard that another classmate was punished for it; on the other hand a student might study harder and take better notes if they heard that a teacher will surprise the class and allow them to use their notes on the next test.
Meanwhile, did you know that neutral and negative gossip are not the only types of gossip? There is also a thing called “positive gossip.” Positive gossip is gossip that lifts others up. Positive Psychology provides a few examples of positive gossip, one of them being to ask colleagues to share a positive thing that they saw another colleague due throughout the week. Another example might be sharing a piece of “positive gossip” between colleagues – “I saw Jane helping the new hire today, it was very kind of her. She even offered to show her around the office even though she has such a busy schedule.”
Keep in mind, we all understand that negative gossip can be detrimental to others and must note that we do not condone negative gossip or the spreading of rumors. Psychology Today discusses how to cope with being the target of gossip, suggesting to remember that you are not alone in this and that gossip does not last forever. Although coping with gossip might not be ideal, it can be helpful in the moment. This article by The Counseling Teacher explains a few ways to end gossip before it starts. One of these ways being to tell the messenger that you’re not interested in gossip or to change the subject.
We hope this article helps you better understand the pros and cons of gossip, now we hope that you spread some positive gossip and silence the negative gossip around you!