In many teacher trainings, discussions about the Yamas and Niyamas are often condensed into easily digestible concepts.
Satya = truthfulness, right speech, non-gossip…sorta. It’s much more complicated than that but it’s a good start.
Every workplace, including yoga studios and fitness clubs, has a policy against malicious gossip. If you’ve ever needed to go to human resources to address it, you know that the line between malicious and unintended is broad and mobile.
When is gossip a positive? Here are three areas to consider:
Are you sharing your personal experience or speculating about others? Malcolm Gladwell talks a little about the other minds problems in his book, What the Dog Saw. That’s the phrase psychologists use to describe our innate curiosity about the interior lives of others. How often do we ask, what do you think about this? Tell me more about that? It’s fact vs fiction.
Are you exploring bigger concepts or just looking for angry allies? Discussions that are often, and sometimes rightly, avoided at work can be had with close work-friends with respect and integrity. Talking about cultural antagonisms, social movements or even the weather can be an honest exchange for deeper understanding. But, phrases like “don’t you agree that…” are a form of peer pressure that are often used to gather support an unstated agenda.
Humour vs snark. Many people love a catty sense of humour. It takes time to get to that level with work-friends. Friendly jabs at those who are present can be fun. A friendly jab at someone not present who has already heard it directly on other occasions can be on the line. A ‘friendly’ jab at someone called out or named, who is not present and has no idea tends to go over the line.
We all do it. We all excuse it. When is it right speech and when is it just wrong?
Check out this interesting article on how to “Gossip Like a Leader”