It is important to live a life without regret and without the need to have regrets. Gossiping can be extremely detrimental to happiness and the well being of not only victims, but also the perpetrators. I knew little of the negative effects of gossiping until I fell victim to it and I vowed never, to subject anyone else to the same maltreatment.
He was intelligent, motivated and superficially friendly, all seemingly great qualities to have for a successful professional career. He wanted to get to the top, with the least amount of effort and it did not matter who he trumped along the way, including me. I came into the scene, rather naive about personalities in a professional setting. We were of the same rank then. This bothered him the most, and when he realised that he could not defeat me in the same race, he decided to find a new tactic to win. I knew he was a big gossip, but I never let this affect me. When he came to me to gossip, I would reply with rather neutral responses, with the hope that a demonstration on appropriate behaviour might inspire the same in him. I was not prepared to do whatever it took to come out on top, I was determined to retain my dignity and pride, no matter what it took.
This was an interesting relationship that we juggled like a hot potato. Back and forth we would test each other. I pushed back when necessary, trying to maintain the neutrality while preserving my moral dignity. This became more challenging overtime since my reservations to engage in regular gossiping sessions became more evident.
Over the next few months, it became more obvious that his behaviour stemmed from a host of underlying insecurities that he harboured from his childhood. Often, what scars and haunts us when we are younger, we work to protect ourselves from when we are older. He was mistreated as a child, ignored by his two disagreeable parents facing the prospect of divorce and domestic violence.
A thought occurred to me at one point that whoever gossips is likely to gossip about me too. I realised then, that sometimes, people would speak to me with a bit too much interest, as if I had gossiped to them in the past. I made an effort to try not to talk to too many people about my private life to avoid being the talk of the town. I felt more distanced as a result, lonely and isolated. The pressure of continuously being careful of not sharing too much information became physically and mentally exhausting. The mental challenge of resisting gossip became increasingly more difficult. I had seen a friend being bullied through the negative effects of gossiping. While I addressed the immediate effects of this incident, there was little I could do the change the overall culture. So overtime, I grew more unpleasant and less tolerant and as a result, I was short tempered. I suffered mentally from depression and anxiety and this impacted my overall happiness as I brought this home with me. Eventually I had to seek help for my condition.
The price we pay for immediate satisfaction of bullying those around us through gossiping about them behind their backs, can have detrimental, long lasting effects on them. These are easy for the perpetrator to forget but prolonged exposure to these negative effects can cultivate a toxic and harmful environment.