If you want to be respected by other people, never gossip about these 10 things

We’ve all been there: caught up in a juicy conversation, sharing secrets you promised (promised) you would take to your grave.

But we don’t always think of nor realize the harmful impact of gossip. It seems meaningless, after all.

However, have a real think. How much do you trust those who seem to endlessly have one finger in the gossip pie? And how do you earn respect from others when they know you can’t keep a secret?

Even if you love a good chin-wag, there are also just some subjects that should be off-limits in the gossip arena.

So, if you’re not yet keyed in, I’ve got a list of the 10 things you should never, ever gossip about, if you want to be respected by other people.

Cull these, and you’ll watch your own relationships (and your classiness) soar.

1) Personal relationships

Let’s kick off with the first and perhaps most obvious thing you should never gossip about – personal relationships. 

Sure, it can be tempting to dissect the fact that your absent friend is mending a broken heart (her boyfriend decided he was in love with his pickup truck).

Or debate why Susie and John’s engagement ended early.

“I heard he got cold feet”

“I heard she realized she was in love with her professor”

“I heard he’s secretly her cousin”

Breakups and makeups can almost feel like they’re your business as they’re part of your social circle, but remember, these are very much not. They’re private matters. 

And we all know how it feels when our own personal life becomes a topic of idle chit chat. 

So instead of indulging in such gossip, try to offer support and understanding. 

Shut down the convo about Susie and John out of respect to them; you’ll be surprised at how much respect you gain by simply respecting the privacy of others.

2) Financial status

Finances are a sensitive topic that can cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment if shared inappropriately. 

And although discussing your work salary can help you out in the corporate world (as much as they tell you otherwise), know that discussing someone’s wealth (or lack thereof) can come across as judgmental and condescending. 

Everyone’s financial journey is unique and personal. 

So, why bother yourself with speculating about someone else’s bank account? 

Focus on your own financial goals and show some respect for others’ financial privacy.

3) Physical appearance

This might seem like a harmless topic, after all, but it can be amongst the most hurtful of gossip topics.

How much do you really need to engage in a quiet whisper about someone’s weight? Someone’s hairdo? How ruffled a sweatshirt someone is wearing?

Gossiping about physical appearances can lead to body shaming and reinforces negative stereotypes about beauty standards. 

Sure, it can be fun to discuss fashion trends, but the moment it crosses into personal critique, you risk being seen as superficial and unkind. 

As my grandmother would’ve said, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”.

Compliment genuinely (to their face), and criticize sparingly (only when absolutely needed, never out of spite.) 

4) Career setbacks

Nobody likes to have their failures broadcasted, especially when it comes to their career. 

Turn the spotlight on yourself here: say you had a bad few months and get quietly let go from your place of employment.

You walk into a dimly lit bar to meet your friends (who are in the middle of a heated discussion about why you were let go), and silence falls upon the table. Your cheeks flush and burn, and you suddenly want the earth to swallow you up

Whether it’s a missed promotion, job loss, or a botched presentation, these are topics that should remain off-limits. 

Instead of participating in such discussions, strive to be someone who uplifts others during their low moments. 

Your empathy and kindness will not go unnoticed and will surely earn you respect among your peers.

5) Health issues

1559 If you want to be respected by other people, never gossip about these 10 things

Health is a deeply personal matter, and discussing someone else’s health struggles without their consent can be seen as intrusive and disrespectful. 

Whether it’s a minor illness or a serious health condition, it’s not your story to tell not to speculate on the who what when of health issues.

There are far more interesting and nuanced topics to discuss than flu/cancer/broken bones (which aren’t on your own body). 

You’ll do a lot better to broaden your mind and get debating, than to harp on about whether someone is sick and what they’re afflicted with.

6) Family dynamics

Family is a sacred and personal space for many individuals. 

While it might be common knowledge that every family has its ups and downs, gossiping about these dynamics can be hurtful and damaging. 

It’s important to remember that what happens within a family should stay within that family, unless they personally choose to share. 

Your discretion in such matters will not only show your respect for others’ personal lives but also earn you respect in return.

7) Personal tragedies

Life is filled with highs and lows, and every individual has their share of personal tragedies. 

Whether it’s a loss of a loved one, a heartbreak, or any other form of personal sorrow, these are not topics for light-hearted gossip, as tasty the topic might seem.

Showing compassion and understanding during someone’s difficult times is a sign of deep respect for their feelings and personal experience. 

By choosing not to gossip about personal tragedies, you uphold the dignity of others and in turn, gain their respect.

8) Past mistakes

We all have skeletons in our closets and invisible suitcases we lug around, mistakes we’ve made in the past that we’d rather forget. Dragging these out into the open doesn’t do anyone any good, and it’s not your job to drag out someone else’s suitcase and rifle through it by any means. 

It’s not fair to judge or define someone by their past, especially if it’s not your business and doesn’t affect you personally. 

People change and grow, and what mattered once probably doesn’t not matter now. 

Recognizing this and refraining from gossiping about past errors shows maturity and understanding, and it will certainly enhance the respect others have for you.

9) Personal secrets

This one should be a given, but just to reiterate, whether it’s a secret shared in confidence or something you stumbled upon, it’s crucial to keep it to yourself. 

Sharing someone else’s secrets without their consent is a breach of trust and can damage your credibility. 

If you promise to take it to your grave, line up your coffin and save a space for it.

Spilling a secret might provide momentary entertainment, but in the long run, it will cost you respect

10) Personal ambitions and dreams

Last but certainly not least, avoid gossiping about someone’s personal ambitions and dreams. 

They are the reflection of a person’s hopes, desires, and their innermost self. 

Mocking or belittling them can come across as insensitive and disrespectful, even if your friend’s 10-year-goal (to buy a treehouse) sounds laughable to you.

Instead, be the person who encourages them and supports them in their pursuit of their dreams. The person who nods, smiles, and starts saving up old plywood to help them get started – no matter how strange or nuanced they sound to you. 

This kind of positive energy not only lifts everyone up and makes them appreciate, but also garners their respect. For life 

Being supportive of other people’s dreams will make you the first person people turn to when they need help, or want to share their accomplishments. The sort of person people love being in the presence of.

Saying no to gossip

“What will I talk about instead?!”

Well, not to sound cliche, but small minds discuss people…

Big minds discuss ideas.

You might find that not gossiping means you cull a few friendships (based solely on whispering about other people’s business), but I can tell you now that these friendships aren’t as healthy as you might think.

Because after all, the person who lets you in on a little secret is also sharing your secrets behind your back.

So leave gossiping at the door. 

It’s a petty trait that breaks trust and disarms confidence, and there are far more productive areas where you could focus all that quality energy currently invested in the discussion of trivial matters.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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