What You Say About Others Says A Lot About You

Gossip is the least intelligent form of modern-day communication. One of my favorite quotes that summarizes this concept was spoken by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” This couldn’t be more true.

When we say negative things about someone, we display more of our true character than theirs. We expose our thought process and method for judging people. We also expose our personal insecurities and pinpoint facets of our lives where we feel inadequate.

Think about it…

What purpose does talking about people serve other than to make ourselves feel better about our lives?

Gossip is bullying for wusses

Some people put others down to make themselves feel better. This is called bullying. And it doesn’t stop when the whistle blows during 5th grade recess. It continues on into adulthood, dividing people and creating unnecessary barriers in relationships.

Bullying is a lazy way to gain self-confidence. The bully doesn’t move up, the bully just knocks someone else down lower. Therefore, the bully never has to change or face his or her personal insecurities head on and do the work necessary to move past them.

But not everyone has the you-know-whats to be a bully in public.

Being a bully in front of other people is risky if you don’t do it right. Instead of thinking you’re better, others might just think you’re plain ol’ mean.

That’s where gossip comes in handy.

Gossip is a safe form of bullying.

Grab two or three of your pals, strike up a conversation about somebody else’s business, and let the bullying begin – unbeknownst to the person you’re talking about, of course, and unbeknownst to anyone else who might judge you for talking about someone else’s business.

Gossip is just another lazy way to build self-confidence without the added risk of looking like an ass.

If you can’t say something nice…

My mother has taught me so much in life. And I must say, most of the stuff she taught me I learned when I was a child.

Did your mother ever tell you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? If not, watch the movie Bambi. Sweet lil’ Thumper will help you out.

This wisdom isn’t just for kids on the playground, though. It’s a golden rule for all humanity.

It’s good to recognize people’s accomplishments, catch friends up on other friends’ lives, and share stories like, “I have to tell you what so-and-so said today! It was so funny!”

It’s also good to sometimes vent to a trusted friend. If we’re having mixed feelings about a person or a situation, sometimes it’s better to get all the nonsense out of our brains with someone else before potentially saying things we don’t really mean or creating unnecessary drama. And it can be good to get someone else’s perspective on the issue.

But sitting around talkin’ smack about people is just plain dumb. It does nothing productive for relationships. It just makes us look like dumb wusses.

Gossip makes us look dumb

Even if what we’re saying is accurate, the way we speak about people says more about our character than theirs.

If we complain, speak foully, and use insults to emphasize our distaste for someone, we are displaying a lack of compassion, a lack of personal responsibility for our role in the relationship or interaction, and needless to say, narcissism.

We demonstrate our hidden feelings of unworthiness and self-hate. And we display our unintelligent way of judging people.

Inaccurate judging is usually the result of judging someone based on an isolated incident instead of a pattern of behavior.

Patience and compassion are required to learn patterns of behavior. People who jump to conclusions about others are typically insecure about whatever they are judging. And insecurity is rooted in fear and narcissism.

Our inaccurate judging, fear of inferiority, and unmanaged narcissism that lead us to gossip about others does nothing for us but make us look stupid and create unnecessary drama and barriers in relationships.

ACT (but don’t if it’s not nice)

Smart people don’t need to gossip. They have so many other thoughts running through those big ol’ brains of theirs, they hardly have the space for needless chatter.

Let’s work on replacing our judgmental chatter about other people with discussion on issues and ideas that truly matter.

What is happening in your life that has absolutely nothing to do with your opinion about someone? Are you training your new dog? Did you get a new project at work? Are you considering moving out of state?

What’s going on in the news? Have you read any articles about legislation that will affect your day-to-day life? Did you learn an astonishing fact about the treatment of women and girls in India, Cambodia, and Nigeria? Are you up-to-date on the candidates that are running for your state’s offices?

Do yourself a favor and get your nose out of other people’s personal business. Engage yourself in the broader workings of society and use all those thoughts and capabilities you have to do something useful.


  1. Chris Mom says:

    Brilliant!! And so relevant in this day…gossip is the polite form of character assassination, barbed with our criticism…and we don’t know that person’s whole story. I love the course change suggested in talking about ones self, the news, ones own personal stuff. Way to go, Rach! You are smart – and beautiful, too!

    • Rachael says:

      Hi Chris Mom! I like your expression, “character assassination.” Very true. There are so many topics in society that are way more interesting than petty gossip. Imagine if more people channeled their thoughts to help solve problems rather than create more problems… Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Annie says:

    I cannot for the life of me remember who said it but this quote is relevant. “A person who is willing to gossip about someone is willing to gossip about anyone.” If someone gossips with you, you can bet they are also going to gossip about you. That thought could definitely deflate some heads…

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