Every one reading this is guilty of gossiping. You, your friend, even people that you barely even know. Whether its something that will make the recipient feel better about themselves or something that will make the recipient feel bad, its still gossip.
According to Wikipedia there are four types of power that are influenced by gossip:
Coercive: when a gossiper tells negative information about a person, their recipient might believe that the gossiper will also spread negative information about them. This causes the gossipers coercive power to increase.
Reward: when a gossiper tells positive information about a person, their recipient might believe that the gossiper will also spread positive information about them. This causes the gossipers reward power to increase.
Expert: when a gossiper seems to have very detailed knowledge of either the organization’s values or about others in the work environment, their expert power becomes enhanced.
Referent: this power can either be reduced OR enhanced to a point. When people view gossiping as a petty activity done to waste time, a gossipers referent power can decrease along with their reputation. When a recipient is thought of as being invited into a social circle by being a recipient, the gossipers referent power can increase, but only to a high point where then the recipient begins to resent the gossiper
The coercive type of gossiping in my mind is a form of indirect bullying. Of course, that’s only my opinion and only if you are talking bad about someone (see coercive above). In fact, I bet that most of the teenage girls reading this gossiped (in a bad way) about someone today at lunch. Remember the last time you ever gossiped about someone in a bad way. Now how would that person react if they heard you? How would you react? Would you say that you weren’t talking about that person? Even if you succeed at getting out of this awkward moment the person that you where gossiping badly about might start thinking of ways that they could change things about themselves to fit in better or something else. So in conclusion, don’t gossip badly about someone!
There is also the good type of gossip, the one that makes people feel better. Now I know that when you gossip about someone you usually don’t want that person to hear what your saying. But if you say something good about someone and what you say spreads and eventually that person hears it, that person will feel better about themselves. It might even make the person respect you more. So next time try to gossip in a good way about someone!
People can gossip anywhere: a church retreat, your school, even the place you work. I know that someone sometime in your life has told you to stop gossiping; they most likely mean to stop talking badly about someone. Next time you catch yourself talking badly about someone, stop yourself! Change the subject! Maybe even say something good about them.