Posted by: jility | July 19, 2012

I Don’t Repeat Gossip So Listen Carefully!

Most of us love gossip unless, of course, it is about us. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but I don’t know of any personally. Gossip is about status. We all want status and do our part to get as much as we can. Status makes us feel more important, but there is a biological need for status that actually served a purpose in the early development of man.

The need for status is actually in our DNA. It is what helped our ancestors fight the fight and keep the villages safe from murdering marauders. Those with the most status led the charge and took care of business.

When we raised horses, it was always the mares that were lower in the pecking order that caused the most trouble. WHY? Status! The lead mare rarely fought. She just ruled without the need for violence or threats. She was secure in who she was and nobody challenged her. Those below her duked it out on a regular basis. Sometimes these fights for status got downright nasty. The more status a mare felt she needed, the nastier the fight and the more determined she was to gain ground.

The interesting thing about the mares was that their babies would take up where their dams left off. Sometimes, even challenging their own mums for status. I always found that the lowest mare in the pecking order was usually the sweetest thing on the planet. All the other babies hung with her because she never kicked them or bit them or chased them away. They would often nurse from her too. We used to say she had chocolate milk so all the babies went to her to nurse. We had a couple of mares like that over the years and they were always my favorites. They were the Mother Theresas of the horse world and I adored them for their pacificity and kindness.

Last year I attended the McDougall 10 Day Program in Santa Rosa, California where Dr. Doug Lisle was one of the speakers. He is a brilliant and entertaining man. He taught us about status, and he has some wonderful videos and books on the market (some are available here:

There are some free lectures by him online too. Here is one I found.

Anyway, gossip is gossip, but there are some forms of gossip that do a lot more damage than others. The worst form of gossip is the made up or embellished kind that leaves the listener to draw their own damaging conclusions. The gossiper can then deny saying anything nasty. Clearly, if the listener jumps to conclusions, that is on them and not the gossiper, but the gossiper leads the way to those conclusions very diligently.

Some people might begin their gossip session with the line, “I really care about [you fill in the blank] and I want to help them but I don’t know what to do…” Whether or not the gossiper really cares about the gossipee is immaterial. It is still gossip and still damaging and hurtful. To take it even further, if the gossiper really cared, they would shut their gossiping mouth and go talk to the gossipee personally. Caring about somebody does not involve gossip! It is about the gossiper feeling more important (raising status) because they know something the listener might not.

The next thing to think about when it come to gossip, is whether or not it is useful for people to inform others that they were the victim of malicious gossip. In my mind, this CAN BE just another form of gossip. However, if I am the gossipee and the information is untrue, embellished and/or spoken by somebody I thought was a friend, then I MOST CERTAINLY want to know. I will not let people into my life if I think they are not trustworthy or true friends. I have plenty of great friends in my life, I don’t need mean or nasty ones!

If I hear gossip about a friend, I will stop it in its tracks. When it comes to my friends, I am a momma bear and I will defend them to my death! If I think that knowing the gossip would do more harm than good to my friend, I will keep it to myself. If, however, I think my friend needs to know, I will tell them. The important thing I ask myself is will knowing the gossip hurt my friend more than not knowing? It is a fine line! If a friend tells me something and they ask me not to repeat it, then I am a LOCKED VAULT!!! If, however, there is no mention of their news being private and it is funny, then I might repeat it for a good laugh (assuming that repeating it would NOT hurt my friend in ANY way shape or form!).

There will always be gossip and people to spread it. Please don’t get the impression that I am above gossiping. I am not. I NEVER gossip about my friends (unless, as I wrote earlier, it is funny and they won’t mind :)). Anything I might say about a person MUST be something I have said or would say to their face! Just like war, there are rules to gossip. And just like war, I am reminded of the General George S. Patton, Jr. quote, “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so.”

Helen  Grinnell King


  1. There was a party game that was popular when I was a little girl. You all sat around in a circle and one person would start by whispering a phrase to the person next to them. That person turned to the person next to them and whispered what she thought she heard into the next persons ear. By the time the phrase made it all the way around the circle, it usually had changed quite a bit.
    There is no two words I hate right now more than “I heard”. Because more often than not, the person who starts out a sentance that way is going to pass on some kernal of information that is distorted, twisted, or just an out and out fabrication. Which gets passed on and on via texts, emails, conversations and grows and changes with each telling.
    Pretty soon someone gets hurt – and why? Because someone wanted to boost their ego by proving that they have the “inside scoop” on someone or something.
    I saw this the other day: “Some people should use gluestick instead of chapstick”. How true is that?

  2. … always remember & never forget… It’s easier to believe a lie than it is to seek the truth… Truth-seekers unite!
    I’ve learned more about myself through boomerang gossip than I ever would have known! How is it that ‘they’ always know more about you than you do?
    …in Hollywood speak, …At least they’re talkin’! Once ‘they’ stop; you know you’re no longer fascinating!
    I have a fantasy… All malicious gossipers get their lips sown together
    by a swarm of ‘darning needles’, aka Dragonflies!

  3. Once again, another wonderful blog.!

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