It's a Saturday night party and it starts out innocently enough with some in the corner saying, "Did you hear about Sam? Clueless, you reply, "What happened to Sam?" "Don't you know about his business?" When you answer in the negative, your friend seizes the moment to fill you in on all the gory details of Sam's business and how bad it is doing.
The circumstances sound familiar? Yes, you got it right - Gossip! We live in a gossip-oriented society so naturally, almost everyone loves to gossip. Many of us do it and do not even realize the implications of it. When gossip is being spread through the grapevine, people's reputations, careers, and lives can get destroyed very rapidly.
The other day I was reading a magazine which carried the much controversial Nira Radia - Ratan Tata tape conversations in which we have a classic example of how a Gossip can start and get activated. I am not getting into the phone tapping & right to privacy controversy but a lighter but important aspect in their conversation. Nira Radia asks Mr.Tata "innocently", “the latest rumor is that 'Raja and Kanimozhi' are having an affair to which Mr.Tata responds "It's spread by whom"? She takes off from there- The beginning of a gossip session!
This discussion reminded me of a fantastic story I have come across about Chanakya, the famous Indian Politician, and Strategist & Writer who lived between 350 BC to 75 BC during Chandragupta Mourrya's period. The story goes like this: One day a known person approached Chanakya and enthusiastically started saying, “Do you know, just a while ago, I heard few things from your friend about you?”
Chanakya was famous for his wisdom, knowledge and good behavior. He said to his known person, “Before I listen to what you have to say, I would like to test it through my three step testing.”
“What is this three-step test?” the person asked.
Chanakya made him understand, “Before you tell me about what my friend has said, let us test it. I call this testing – a three-step test. The first test is of truthfulness. Is it sure that whatever you are going to say is a truth?”
“No”, the person said, “I have heard it from somewhere.”
“Okay”, Chanakya analyzed. “If you don't know whether this is true or not, we will do another test. The second test is for goodness. Are you going to tell me some good thing about my friend?”
“No, it’s opposite to it…..” “Then”, Chanakya asked further. “Whatever you are going to say, is not the truth, is not positive about my friend then let’s do the third test. The third test is of usefulness. Whatever you are going to tell me, is that useful to me?”
“No, it’s not like that.” Chanakya then said the last thing.
Article by Shamim Sharif
“Whatever you are supposed to tell me, it is not true, it’s not positive and it’s not useful also, then why you want to tell me?”
What a fabulous way to stop gossip. Even though both men and women gossip, women tend to get the brunt of the blame. I think contrary to this opinion; women have no exclusive franchise on gossip! Every day men, too, live in a partially-poisoned environment. Conversation is a big part of our psychological environment. Some conversation is healthy. It encourages you. It makes you feel like you're taking a walk in the warm sunshine of a spring day. Some conversation makes you feel like a winner.
But another conversation is more like walking through a poisonous cloud. It chokes you. It makes you feel ill. It turns you into a loser. Gossip is the just negative conversation about people, and the victim of thought-poison begins to think he enjoys it. He seems to get a form of poisoned joy from talking negatively about others, not knowing that to successful people he is becoming increasingly unlikable, and unreliable.
Let's make one point clear: all conversation is not gossip. You can test purpose when they are constructive. You can test your proneness to be a gossiper by taking this test:
1. Do I spread rumors about other people?
2. Do I always have good things to say about others?
3. Do I judge others only on the basis of facts?
4. Do I encourage others to bring their rumors to me?
5. Do I predict my conversations with "Don't tell anybody"?
6. Do I keep confidential information confidential?
7. Do I feel guilty about what I say concerning other people?
The right answers are obvious. Meditate on this thought for just a moment: Taking an ax and chopping our neighbor's furniture to pieces won't make our furniture look one bit better; using verbal axes and grenades on another person doesn't do one thing to make you a better you or me a better me! Don't you feel, it’s really not benefiting anyone, and is likely causing harm somewhere along the line--a friendship will end, someone will get their feelings hurt, or it will just create drama.
I am sure you will agree with me, if we stop gossiping and tighten our lips, we will find that our life will run a lot more smoothly. The question is can we get rid of gossiping - the relationship spoiling grenade? The answer is simple- YES, provided, like Chanakya, if we can check our conversations with the three test parameters - TRUTHFULNESS, GOODNESS, AND USEFULNESS!