4 masks of gossip

+ Understand the hidden drives



The habit of gossiping has its purpose. It isn’t always so obvious one. Interestingly, the drive for gossiping can be hidden even from the gossiper. This means that you can gossip and not be aware that you’re doing it and why.

Gossiping helps us in an illusory manner to meet our mental needs for control, attention, belonging and acceptance. The purpose of gossiping is to reduce the tension associated with more or less stressful social situations. By doing this we manipulate in relationships with people to achieve our goals. The act of gossiping takes on different masks. The drive often remains simply unaware for many of us. Take a look below.

Mask 1 ‘I need to talk’

Some of us gossip under the hood “I need to talk”. This way we create specific “support groups” for each other.

Inside a gossiping individual, the hidden drive looks somewhat like this:

I’ll tell you how bad she is. My hope is that you’ll listen to my story with interest. I expect that later you’ll give me support and confirmation of my thinking. This will strengthen the uncertain part of me. I’ll be sure that I’m right. Eventually, my stress level associated with this difficult situation will drop a bit.”

Mask 2 ‘The common purpose’

Others gossip under the hood of “The common purpose.” This way they create an exit strategy from the real lack of purpose. In other words, their gossiping takes a form of empty chatter with a slightly pleasant tinge or it is simply idle chatter.

Inside gossips using this mask, the hidden drive looks somewhat like this:

“I’ll tell you what I know about him, and you’ll tell me what you know about him. Together we’ll fill in our missing knowledge on this irrelevant subject. Most importantly, we’ll kill the time while drinking or smoking something. In this way, we’ll deal smartly with unpleasant boredom and the monotony and tension associated with the lack of personal and passionate topics. Moreover, we’ll be well informed about these unnecessary matters which really aren’t our business.”

Mask 3 ‘I’m saying this only for you’

Some people use gossip under the hood “I’m saying this only for you”. In this way, they form an “electoral support” for themselves.

Inside someone gossiping under this mask, the hidden drive looks somewhat like this:

“I trust you, so I’ll tell you what she did. By the way, I’ll express my dissatisfaction and negative opinion about this person. Of course, I’m saying this only for you, so you see how much I trust you. Thanks to me, you’ll know how she really is. This knowledge can save you. Let me, in good faith, shape your thinking about this person. This is what I am really about here. I’ll feel much safer having your support and the illusion of control in the situation with her. My stress will diminish slightly. You see, the tension I’m facing is unbearable to me.”

Mask 4 ‘You gotta know that

A lot of us gossip under the mask “You gotta know that”. This way, we create a “VIP zone” for ourselves.

Inside a person gossiping under this mask, the hidden drive looks somewhat like this:

“I’ll tell you something very important! You’d better listen to me with attention. What I am about to say will blow your mind. You see, when you let me say this relevant news, I’ll feel valued and significant. If I didn’t say it I would feel unworthy and unnecessary in this conversation. It would be unbearable stress for me.”

Gossiping helps us in an illusory manner to meet our mental needs for control, attention, belonging and acceptance.

How to treat masks?

They’re all very human. I’d say they’re normal because widely used. Each of us copes with stress in relationships as best as possible at this very moment. It must be said that in social situations many of us use the gossip to reduce fear and doubt. This doesn’t mean we’re bad people or something is wrong with us and we deserve to be scorned. This just means gossip is our way of coping with stress. Gossip is an often unaware defensive strategy of our egos, which we use when we feel threatened. It is a form of relief from anxiety. In this manner, this is no different from a cigarette, a doughnut with cream or a beer.


Which mask is the most common for you?

I ‘m curious what are your experiences and opinions on this matter? Comment below.

See all posts in the series

  • 4 masks of gossip
  • Are you a gossip?
  • Gossiping as a habit
  • To gossip or not to gossip- You decide
  • What's hidden under 4 masks of gossip?
  • 6 shields against gossip
  • How to shift the habit of gossiping?
  • Inner Adventure! 21 days without gossiping

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