Why Do We Tear Others Down?

Photo by  EngelFish

Photo by EngelFish

What is it about people that they feel such a compulsion to talk about and tear down others? What pleasure do we derive by gossiping about co-workers, bosses, Hollywood celebrities and sometimes even friends? Pull up just about any news site and there is no shortage of salacious stories, and gossip telling us about someone in Hollywood doing things that are really none of mine or anyone’s business.

So why do we do it? What possible benefit can we derive from it? There are probably many reasons, but I think a big one is the same reason people bully others. When we tear someone down it makes us seem a little superior to them. So many of us struggle with self-worth issues that we are willing to do almost anything to show ourselves valuable or important to others.

I don’t know about you, but I have never once listened to someone tear down someone else and said to myself, “Boy, I’m really impressed with you”. It’s like intentionally hitting your hand with a hammer to get attention; you’ll get attention alright, but your hand is going to be mangled. And that’s exactly what happens with your reputation. When you run around gossiping or speaking evil of others your reputation will be mangled.

Give me a couple hours of hearing someone complain about their life or other people, and I feel exhausted. Give me a couple hours around positive people who are doing things with their life, and I’m on fire and ready to take on the world.

So what is it you want in your life? Do you want to spend your life always putting others down, and looking for ways that you’re better than them? Do you really want to waste your time finding fault and being a busy-body? When you break it down and look at it in that context, I think you will agree that that kind of life is not one that most of us want to aspire to.

When all is said and done, don’t we all just want to be happy? Don’t we all just want to be liked and appreciated by others? To be happy and to have friends, you have to be a friend to others. To be appreciated, you have to become the kind of person people appreciate. That is not a gossip or someone who speaks evil of others.

In “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” You’ll notice that it doesn’t say anything about tearing others down, but by becoming interested in them. By finding the good in them.

Show a genuine interest in what someone else has to say, even if it’s not a topic you’re interested in, and you will see their face light up. Greet people with a genuine smile, and most of the time you will have that smile returned to you.

Be nice to people, and most will be nice to you. Be a trustworthy friend, and you will be admired and appreciated. Talk bad about people and the only friends you’ll have are other people who like to gossip and tear people down.

Start looking for the good in people, and you will find yourself much happier. It’s easy to find fault in people, because were all human and filled with faults. But there is also lots of good in each of us, and when you look for and focus on that good, your life becomes so much better and happier.

In parting, I would like to share this quote.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain–and most do.” ~~ Dale Carnegie


  • http://billgrandi.com/ Bill (cycleguy)

    I like your reasoning Mike: “not once have I impressed with them.” So true! We do it to make ourselves look better and only end up making ourselves look more life a fool.

    • Mike

      I hate the way I look when being the fool, so I’m doing my best to avoid it. :) Thanks Bill!

  • http://theregoi.com/ floyd

    Awesome quote! I was just having this conversation with someone this morning. It’s amazing to me when others try to drag down people to their miserable level, but as they say, “misery loves company!”

    I’ve found what you have; to find true interest in others is to open up our worlds to ones we never knew existed… and we grow exponentially.

    Great post, Mike!

    • Mike

      Hey Floyd! Today at work I found myself almost caught up in talking about another employee. He’s a really negative guy and is always complaining about everything, but does that justify us talking about him? No! So I bit my tongue while others talked and I felt good about not joining in the bash fest.