Gossip can hurt both you and the person you choose to talk about in several ways:
If you are someone who talks behind people’s backs, even those who like you will come to mistrust you. When you hear a man slandering someone else when that person is not present, you are forced to wonder what that man says about you, when you are not around.
Gossip is inherently unfair. Men should always seek to be just in their dealings with others. But when you gossip, you sully a person’s name without that person being present and allowed to defend themselves. Your reputation is important to you; show that same respect for the reputation of others by refusing to tear them down when they can’t fight back.
Gossip can ruin people’s reputations. Sometimes even information you are sure at the time is true, turns out to be faulty. Nevertheless, the damage is done and people’s perceptions of a person may be forever altered.
How to Keep Confidences
Determine whether or not a piece of information can be passed on or not. Gossip does not have to be false to be gossip. Gossip can be true, yet still no one’s damn business. If you are not sure if something can be shared or not, ask yourself these questions:
• Is it true?
• Is it kind?
• Is it necessary?
If you can answer yes to all three, then go ahead. If not? Shut you pie hole.
But what if others press you to reveal something secret that you know? I recommend the following as an excellent retort: Draw the information seeker close to you and whisper, “Can you keep a secret?” Your friend will then answer, “Certainly!” At this point put your hand on his shoulder and say, “Well, so can I.” End of conversation.
Most men would never dream of robbing a bank or stealing their friends’ possessions. But many men are far less careful with an equally valuable piece of property: private information. No matter how the information came to you, the sacredness of information in your possession should be closely guarded. You should consider the confidential information given you as money in a trust; you are the guardian, but you are not allowed to spend it. It is rare today to meet a man with whom you can share your private thoughts and know absolutely that that information will never leave the room. Be that man. Be a man of honor. Be a vault.