Did You Hear? Gossip Can be Good

By VIA Institute on Character

Ever get caught gossiping about your mother-in-law? I have. I ran into a friend and during the course of conversation mentioned how kind and considerate my mother-in-law is. She had recently taken a day off of work just to pick me up from the airport after my vacation. I had thanked her, but it wasn’t until having that conversation with someone else that I really realized how much she had gone out of her way to do something nice for me.

Fast forward a few days, and I come to find out that my gossip had gotten back to my mother-in-law when she and my husband had bumped into the same friend. My husband said his mom was beaming after hearing about the praise I had given her. As I reflected on this, I realized how easy it was to turn talking about someone into talking about someone’s strengths.

Why Gossip Can Be Good

When you make a concerted effort to compliment others on their character strengths behind their backs, the impact it has on you and your relationships might just surprise you. Here are three ways that gossiping positively can be a great thing for those around you–and yourself.

  1. It makes you feel good. As the saying goes, no one ever felt bad after saying something kind. Well, it’s true. Be mindful of the conversations that you engage in, and practice magnifying other people’s strengths. One of the best things about character strengths is they elevate a person without diminishing others.

  2. It strengthens relationships. Choosing to talk about someone’s strengths, as opposed to their shortcomings, will make you more trustworthy and likable to the people you’re talking to. They’ll recognize your humility, and they won’t be concerned that you will talk negatively about them in their absence. And, if the comments get back to the person you are talking about, the person will feel more connected to you and appreciated.

  3. It inspires others. What goes around comes around. As you spread good gossip about others, you may notice people gossiping about your character strengths. Your character strengths are what is best in you and what will help you build a successful and fulfilling life. So let them talk.

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