We has a great conversation last night about gossip (at Mount Madonna School – amazing place). On our school climate survey the lowest scoring question was, “People here don’t gossip much.”

One of the parents pointed out that gossip isn’t necessarily done with harmful intent — people could say they “gossip” because they are concerned and sharing important information. Personally I wouldn’t call that gossip. Princeton WordNet says:

n 1: light informal conversation for social occasions
2: a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people; “the divorce caused much gossip”
3: a person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others

So there is a dimension that’s just “chit-chat,” but there’s that “often malicious” in there. What do you think? Is there something inherently malicious or undermining in gossip?

Anyway, one of my favorite questions: How do we use the tendency to gossip in a positive way?
What’s so good about this is that it acknowledges people are as they are — and we still have choice… and we still have the opportunity to influence others. It’s a very strengths-oriented approach: What do people do well, and how can that come into service of a larger purpose?

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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