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How Gossip Hurts a Friendship

Friendship Problems Caused by Talking Behind a Friend's Back


Close-up of two women gossiping
Fabrice LEROUGE/ONOKY/Getty Images

Gossip is something that can forever change a friendship, and even prevent you from making new friends in the future. Talking out of school? Just not cool. Here are some ways gossip hurts, and what you can do to avoid it.

Gossip Makes You Look Bad

If you’re the one gossiping, other people who don’t know you will shy away from being your friend. If you talk behind one friend’s back, the perception is that you will do to anyone. Plus, you never know if the person you're gossiping to is pals with the one you're trashing.

Friendship is about likability and trust, and if you show that one of those components is missing, you’ll have a harder time making friends. The next time you feel the need to talk about a friend, take a moment to understand why. Do you think spreading gossip will help make you stand out? Do you believe it will give the perception that you're "in the know"?

When you have the urge to blurt something out, give yourself a time out. Pause. Take a breath, and then re-think what you were about to say. Perhaps the problem isn't that you're mean-spirited or hurtful, instead maybe you let things come out of your mouth that you don't intend to say.

Confronting a Friend Who Has Gossiped About You

If you confide in a friend and then realize your trust was misplaced, this will forever change your relationship. Once trust is gone, it has to be rebuilt over time. You may decide that you do not want to give your friend another chance, and this will end your relationship. Perhaps the person that gossiped was not your friend to begin with.

If you do go forward with your friendship, you'll need to make sure your friend knows that talking out of turn won't be tolerated. Perhaps your friend believed that what she shared was common knowledge. If you choose to give her another chance, do it with a clear indication that you don't talk about people behind their backs, and you expect the same from your friend. You might need to hold your pal at arm’s length for a bit until trust is restored.

How to Stop Gossiping

If you hear someone gossiping, set an example of how to behave. Even you don’t know the person being talked about, change the subject or walk away. Don’t let the poor behavior of someone else ruin your reputation as a good friend.

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