It was 7pm. I was walking back from my workplace to go to some nice place for dinner. A friend from office was accompanying me. While we were on our way to the restaurant, she was talking about another girl from our office, her habits, her behavior etc. She was basically gossiping about that person.
I myself take pride in being the kind of person who never gossips. For me, the idea is always to make my life interesting enough for others to gossip about me! While in the middle of the talk, as I stopped her from talking, since it was a meaningless conversation anyway, a beautiful thought struck me.
The thought led to the three simple yet powerful stages of Gossip (and any conversation for that matter).
Stage 1: Observation
In this stage, we observe things, events, people. We observe who they are, what they are, how they behave etc. Considering there are so many people and events happening around us, Observation is unavoidable and inevitable.
Observation can vary anywhere from a man cleaning his nose in the middle of the day to a kid falling off from a bicycle to a young girl slipping her foot on a banana. Observations are a part of life, forever happening because of the senses.
Stage 2: Judgment
In this stage, the event or behavior of a particular person at any point in time is digested by the mental faculty, is compared with the existing thought pattern of the observer and a judgment is made about the ‘good’ness or the ‘bad’ness of the event or the person. It is this stage where we give importance to the object of our Observation and put it on a Good-Bad scale (away from the neutral) based on our own way of thinking and looking at the world.
Judgments can vary anywhere from the feeling of disapproval of someone’s intimate relationship with some other person to being happy about the fact that some other individual failed in their life more than yourself!
Stage 3: Speaking
This final stage emerges out of Stage 2. Judgment, i.e. putting the event on a spectrum automatically leads to a disturbance of the Equilibrium of the mind. Once the Equilibrium is disturbed, there will always be an urge to get back to it. Giving out words is a beautiful way of getting the mind back to Equilibrium since the effect of judgment is now neutralized. And Gossip, where a bunch of people sit down together to do precisely the same, is one of the best ways of letting the Judgment go out of the system!
Further, the more the degree of judgment of any particular person or situation, the more is the urge to share. Imagine the last time you heard the spectacular news of Sachin making a Century! Or heard about a million people losing their lives in a war. Or the last time you met someone totally new and fell in love with that person at the first site! There is an urge, an inner feeling, a desire to share the incident. This is especially because the Judgment made of the event is so strong that you can no longer restore the Equilibrium of the mind without letting it out of your system.
The next time you begin to share a story or an incident, think about the three stages of Gossip you have internally gone through. The idea is not to condemn them but to understand them and to realize that they are forever happening inside of you and that ultimately, with practice, they can be under your control.
As long as there are eyes and ears, Observation is unavoidable. The real question of choice comes at the stage of Judgment. The more the judgment, the more the urge to Speak about it.
Judge a limited number people and events and a more silent life is bound to come into existence.