“Can you imagine? Her husband…” “Did you see how horrible she looked yesterday?” “He’s not really a good expert.” “Your children are so rude!” We have all heard phrases similar to these and, unfortunately, we are all guilty of talking about someone behind their back.

People like to spread gossip. A recent study found that discussing intimate details about other people accounts for about 80% of all our conversations.

Why Do People Gossip?

According to psychologists, the main reason we do this is our desire to simplify the process of building social ties with others.

Dislikes shared by two or more people are a more powerful tool for linking them than common likes and interests.

People feel a certain excitement when they disclose confidential information about other people.

There is gossip that takes pleasure in someone else’s faults or mistakes, compared to these less fortunate people.

How Can We Stop It?

It seems that gossip is everywhere and we cannot dissuade people from this bad habit. But psychologists have revealed a simple phrase that can stop you immediately. Whenever someone tries to draw you into a negative conversation about another person, ask them:

“Why Are You Telling Me This?”

That phrase sounds very simple, doesn’t it? However, it is very effective.

First, this question dispels any selfish motives for gossip.

Second, this sentence makes your interlocutor understand that you have no interest in engaging in such a conversation.

Gossip is not a harmless practice. Words have great power. Spreading rumors or lies about someone can have devastating consequences for that person.

It is important to remember that when you gossip, you are hurting another person, directly or indirectly. So the next time someone tries to lure you into gossip, remember a simple phrase like “Why are you telling me this?” It can prevent dirty rumors from spreading.

Preview photo credit Medusa Film

Based on materials from David Wolfe