Wait till you hear this
Is gossiping essential to our psychological well-being?
Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
NOTHING NEW Most of us love a bit of harmless gossip
Catherine II, Empress of 18th Century Russia died under questionable circumstances involving a horse. At least this is what you will believe unless you happen to have a passion for Russian history. The truth is she died of a stroke and her death had
nothing to do with horses. No one knows who started these misleading stories about how she died.
The story is not about Catherine II or horses. It’s about gossip.
What you learn from the anecdote is that people have always gossiped and always will. We gossip, especially at work, because the smallest break from monotony is welcome.
What do we gossip about? The latest office policy that bans Orkut?
The new boss who looks too young to be married? The girl in the PR department who gets paid a bomb for god knows what? We never run out of topics to talk about.
Swati Ved, who works with a law firm says, “We talk about employers and how they are favour only some people. Personal lives are discussed. If a guy talks too much with a girl, it is fodder for gossip. But more often we crib about managers.”
But it looks like gossip is facing a major threat from new corporate policies that specifically restrict or prohibit on-the-job gossip.
In the West, employees are already paying a price for gossiping, with those indulging in it getting fired or having to confront the people they gossiped about. What’s more, employees are even being asked to attend “I Will Kick the Habit of Gossiping” workshops.
Swati says that some law firms in Delhi have cameras installed in the office to keep a tab on those who gossip.
There are theories that gossip played a fundamental role in the evolution of human intelligence and social life.
According to books on the origin and evolution of gossip, two-thirds of all human conversation is gossip. Psychologists say that gossip is essential to our social, psychological and physical well-being.
We asked people if the system of punishing people for gossiping will work in India and here is what they have to say: Vinnetha Athrey, a former employee of Tata Consultancy Services, says, “As a nation, we love to gossip. This kind of control will never work here. We have grown up seeing our mothers, aunts, grandmothers do it. It is a way of life for us. We can’t mind our own business.”
Visakha, a HR Manager with Crisil, Bangalore, says, “I don’t know about anyone who has been punished for gossiping. Harmless office gossip can be ignored.”
The verdict? We don’t want any gossip police!
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