Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gossip - The Relationship Killer Grenade!

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 situation sounds 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 conversation reminded me of a fantastic story I have come across about Chanakya, the famous Indian Politician, 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 truth 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 lets 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.

“Whatever you are supposed to tell me, it is not true, its not positive and its 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 other 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 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 axe and chopping our neighbor's furniture to pieces won't make our furniture look one bit better; and 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, its 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!
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Anonymous said...

Hi Shameem,

Stunner! Very true. I can relate this to so many people. Thanks for this simple but inspiring message.

Krishna Moorthy

Anonymous said...

Thank God ! At least some one told, it's not just women gossip, but men too :) Good story sir.

Priya Mahadevan
Tata Teleservices

Anonymous said...

Excellent and very inspiring story. In today's time, conversation is the key to success however a negative statements can overrule all the good deeds.

Harikrishnan P.K said...

this story is a part of a chain mail, circulated almost an year back. Asking Human being to stop gossiping is cruel than asking them to stop eating. Have you noticed the difference between human beings and other living things? Every other living things are borne with lot of things hardwired in to their brain, like eating habits, making a nest. Human being are born blank. However the dangerous part, they are never satisfied with anything - be it food, money or power. It is very hard to believe Charles Darwins theory of evolution, as human being have no resemblance in what they can/cant do to any living thing. Communism can work only among animals (unless you believe what is happening in China or Kerala is communism).the only thing hardwired in to their brain (other than breathing etc) is to kill each other, physically or through words etc etc. You have to learn to live in this world. A day will NOT come when all human beings live peacefully.

Shamim Rafeek said...

Dear Harikrishnan,

Thanks for the feed back. Since my article has got nothing to do with Darwin's theory or Communism, let me not comment on it.

On the other side, if you truly believe asking people to stop gossiping is cruel, my answer is simple : no one can make any one do anything unless that person feel its good for him. So please continue doing the things what you believe in :)

To wrap it up, I beg to differ on your statement " a day will not come when all human beings live peacefully ". I believe, a DAY WILL COME. Because, if every one thinks negatively like you, it will never come. Let's try to spread the positivity, that's all what we can do in this short and sweet god gifted life!

Anonymous said...

Good. I like it.

Manoj Abraham
City Police Commissioner

Unknown said...

Dear Shamim,
Your article is excellent and conveys good values to the soceity as usual. Thanks for expanding a common social problem. Chanakya's points carries every thing to be said. Iwill certainly fwd this to my friends.
ASA Kerala

Jagath said...

Very Positive Thinking.... I like your words THE DAY WILL COME.
Keep all interesting &
making us to think of us

Mirage said...


A unique topic to be handled!Being a woman I am really relieved that at last someone is attributing gossip to the male also.We were always at the sword's end.Thanks for the wonderful eye opener ,continue with more good articles.

Jaishree Rajagopal.

Mitali Sinha said...

Dear Sir
I had attended ur training session on Team Building last month. Many of us here felt that it was one of the finest trainings we ever had. Thank u Sir. n this is an Amazing article .gossip is something that most of the people love to hear UNLESS its about themselves! Its true..ur writings really inspire me & i too strongly believe in what u said.. spread the positivity, that's all we can do in this short span of life!
Mitali Sinha

Unknown said... true....
I am working in an Intl Institution.. we are from all over the ,women....young and old...
but let me tell you....this one thing has spoiled many a relation in our campus.... is not women who carry these empty words... but men!
This has become so cancerous...Some of us shrunk to small 'cool evenings'

Anonymous said...

yeah..that's really a very informative post for always to keep in mind.


Anonymous said...

I'm going to post this on my office door. It is excellent!

ash said...

Brilliant lines Shamim...Congrats...I am visiting your site for the time.....

shiby, Cochin

Sunil said...

Hi Sir,

Wonderful combination of ancient wisdom and modern times...

Anonymous said...

Hello Sir

I have posted one topic about'Family Values' in Yi discussion link,please read it and try to write about that in your blog.I appreciate Yi's activities,if they could conduct some seminars or experts talk will be very good.

Unknown said...

informative post thanks for sharing !
Sudheer Sandra is the leading Motivational Speaker in hyderabad and Psychologist. Sudheer Sandra Career Counselling Centre in Hyderabad with the intent to provide solutions to all kinds of career confusions among students and professionals.
He is very passionate about Psychology and is intend to spread awareness about psychology and mental health. The process of finding your purpose involves finding your passions first, which made him to choose psychology after his Engineering