SEE, HEAR, SPEAK NO EVIL

If you would be well spoken of, learn to speak well of others. And when you have learned to speak well of them, endeavor likewise to do well to them; and reap the fruit of being well spoken of by them.

-Epictetus

see-hear-talk-no-evil

Doesn’t it feel good when you say something nice about someone when they are not around? Now, doesn’t it feel even grander when somebody comes and tells you how well you were spoken of by a group of people? I call it positive gossip.

So, the one-million-dollar question is; why are human beings more inclined to say bad stuff about each other? Is it that we don’t like feeling good? Is that nice fluttery feeling inside after a good action too distasteful for us?

Hardly anything good ever comes out of slander. Let us look at various possible outcomes after gossip occurs.

Outcome 1. The other party could go and tell the gossiped. This fear of the unknown causes mistrust, fear; that knot in your stomach when your gossip counterpart seems to befriend the victim.

Outcome 2. The secret comes out. The word secret is being used very loosely. The expected reaction will probably be a big fight or the quiet seething hatred for each other.

Outcome 3. The horrible feeling inside knowing you spoke ill of someone.

Outcome 4. When they look at you and you wonder if they can see deep into your evil actions.

Outcome 5. They do a kind act to you and all you can feel is shame eating you up.

In conclusion, nothing good comes of gossip. The thrill of that particular moment when sharing it is pretty exhilarating. One might even say that it is so tasty, how we love to swallow it. You know that something feels good if you compare it to food.

It is interesting to know that human beings get a little happy when bad things happen to people they know, even their friends and family. They also tend to feel bad when good things happen. Stop looking at these words skeptically, you self-righteous person, this is science (social science) that I am imparting in you*. You might deny it but it is the hard truth. Otherwise, what is that feeling that you got when you saw your peer driving a Range Rover? Tell me what is that, for that one quick minute that you felt when you heard that your friend got promoted to a management position while you have been at the same position for the last three years with as little as a three percent raise? Can you deny that tug when your BFF shared the news that she just got hitched?

Face it humans, we lean heavily towards these feelings. That is why we slander. It takes effort to say nice things (not to their faces, mark you) especially to people we do not like. Having said all this, let us work harder to go against the grain. Give what you would like in return. Speak well of others. If you cannot, like the monkey emoji; see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

 

*For more information on social science and human behaviour look for ‘barking up the wrong tree’ by Eric Barker.

 

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