Gossip and the Boomerang Effect


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In my Rich Habits study, one of the data points I found interesting was about gossiping. 94% of the wealthy avoided it vs. 79% of the poor who engaged in it regularly.

I never thought much about gossiping until my research. Since then I’ve learned quite a bit about it from numerous studies. Here are some startling stats that I uncovered in my research on gossiping:

  • 90% of workplace conversations are gossip.
  • 15% of workplace email content is gossip.
  • 60-70% of gossip is negative – Gossip is 2.7 times more likely to be negative.
  • Gossip irreparably damages relationships.
  • Gossip causes chronic stress.
  • Engaging in gossip, either by communicating it or listening to it, flips your mindset from positive to negative.
  • 60% of gossip is judgmental.
  • Gossip often destroys reputations in the workplace.

Spontaneous trait transference, also known as the Boomerang Effect, is a phenomenon where people are perceived as possessing a trait that they describe in others (Hovland, Janis and Kelly, prominent psychologists, first recorded and named the boomerang effect in 1953). Telling others that your friend is lazy will cause them to infer that you are lazy. Those who engage in regular gossip, most of which is negative, are inadvertently creating negative perceptions of themselves. It’s one of those Poor Habits I talk about frequently that act like an anchor, dragging you down and creating a life of misery. 

No good can come from gossiping, which is predominantly negative. It not only damages the reputations of those you gossip about, it also has a boomerang effect, damaging your own reputation. Like many behaviors, it’s a habit that must be broken if you hope to succeed in life. Awareness is the key to changing any habit. When you find yourself engaging in gossip, stop and change the subject immediately. Or, only engage in positive gossip, which is a Rich Habit. Good gossip, saying something positive about someone when they are not around, will make others like you. They will unconsciously assume that you will say nice things about them to others as well.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Davene Meehan says:

    As a woman, I have always been encouraged to vent. Now what I think–what is running around on the edge of my brain–is that venting is gossiping and it is a way to run away from the problem instead of fixing the problem. I like to vent with my husband and mother. If I have a problem, I need to figure out how to fix it with that person. So with this on my heart–I woke up thinking how I need to talk to this woman who bothers me by always dropping by and complaining about other co-workers and mooching my candy. 🙂 She seems so sensitive how can I not hurt her??? I resolved to only bring it up the next time she did so. Well that excact morning, she came up to me, put her arm around me and told me that she needed to apologize for her words in regard to the last worker she had been complaining about. She had seen on my face how distressed I was. (But I was trying to let her vent.) This gave us a chance to talk. I did not bring up the candy–a subject for another time.

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