Why we gossip.

Kyle loves to ride his motorcycle.
Really, really fast.
He’s gotten it up to 180 mph on the highway.
But Kyle hates to fly.
Because while sitting in a plane, Kyle’s not in control.
There’s no logic to his feelings.
Flying is, statistically, much safer than driving.
Especially at extreme speeds and on a motorcycle.
But that information is irrelevant to Kyle.
Because Kyle’s feelings drive his decisions.
And so do yours and mine (even though we’re largely unaware of them).
Like Kyle, one of our most powerful feelings is our desire for a sense of control.
(I mention it briefly in my TEDx talk).
It’s hard to see, but it’s everywhere.
For example, a recent study sought to answer a question.
Why do people gossip?
The results seem paradoxical.
But only if you are unaware of the mysterious workings of the mind.
It turns out that we don’t really care about the subject of the gossip.
What we care about is what that information means to us.
“Individuals use evaluative information about others (i.e., gossip) to improve, promote, and protect themselves.”
We use gossip to contrive a sense of control.
To attempt to feel secure about our future.
And we do the same when looking at our fitness trackers and stock portfolios.
Most of us have the human brain all wrong.
We think people are moving through the world, trying to figure it out.
Hoping to understand “reality.”
We’re not.
Instead, we’re being pushed and pulled by life’s circumstances.
Rapidly screening and interpreting stimuli, in order to make personal meaning.
We’re on the lookout for what’s useful.
For anything that what will give us an edge or make us happy.
These are extremely noisy times.
Everyone and everything seems to be competing for our attention.
And this reality makes influence a primary currency.
Once you accept the nature of human beings.
Once you see that we all view the world through a unique and self-interested lens.
One that focuses incessantly on our environment, our identity, and having a personal sense of control.
Your approach to influencing others will change dramatically.
And so will your results.

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  1. Pingback: What will gossip cost your organization this week?

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