There are ten harmful effects to people who spread rumors and perpetrate malicious gossip:
1. You prove you are not trustworthy. When people hear you speculating about other people or spreading rumors, they know that you are likely to talk about them behind their back as well.
2. You appeal to busybodies. You will be fostering relationships with an uninspiring group of people. Individuals who listen to rumor mongering do not have a lot going on in their lives and will not be interesting themselves.
3. You hurt others. Spreading rumors damages other people’s reputation without being based on substantiated fact. You can destroy people’s self-confidence, their careers, and even their lives.
4. You feel dirty. The attention may feel good while listeners are gripped by your salacious story, but soon thereafter it won’t feel good when you realize you’ve damaged someone’s reputation.
5. You waste time focusing on hearsay. The time spent talking about others could have been used to do something more productive or inspiring.
6. You lose your credibility. When you exaggerate or spread unverified gossip, people will stop believing what you say.
7. You feel pressure to satisfy a never-ending thirst for more rumor-mongering. You will need to come up with more stories to pique the jaded or prurient interest of your listeners, which further pressures you to exaggerate or spread hearsay.
8. You push interesting people away. People with productive or interesting lives are generally repelled by rumor mongers, and will start avoiding you once they figure out your MO.
9. You lose sight of your own interests. The attention you’re getting is not in response to your more positive talents, skills and efforts, but the salacious gossip you mete out. What you focus on in life is what develops. So your more positive qualities diminish into the background.
10. You demean yourself. You degrade yourself by showing a lack of integrity when you choose to spread unverified information.
It’s natural to be curious about other people’s lives, to spread factual or verifiable news about others, and to discuss human behavior to gain insight into our own lives and the lives of others. Yet spreading rumors, which are not verified facts, generally diminishes your life and the lives of those around you.
by Dr. Alison Poulsen