Does Negative Gossip Hurt or Help Your Professional Reputation?

Andrea WhiteChild Sleep Consultant, Educational Material

Today, I want to talk about this important aspect of our work as sleep consultants – how we treat each other. Our goal is to help children and families sleep better, but respect and kindness for each other are just as important. 

Sometimes, the pressure to stand out or succeed can lead to negative talk about others. Greed and competition can tempt some consultants to speak poorly about their peers. 

In today’s article, we will look at what social science says about this behavior and how it actually backfires.

Did you know that when you criticize other consultants, it actually speaks poorly about you and not the other consultant you are criticizing? 

This is a well-known concept in social science. It is called ‘spontaneous trait transference’ – when you mention negative traits about someone else, people associate those same traits with you, not the person you are talking about (Skowronski, Carlston, Mae, & Crawford, 1998) For example, if you call someone untrustworthy, others see you as untrustworthy.

A study by Hartgerink, van Beest, Wicherts, and Williams (2015) found that negative gossip not only changes how others see us but also harms our social bonds. Criticizing others makes us seem less trustworthy and more malicious, and this can hurt our professional relationships. Another study by Kniffin and Wilson (2005) examined the role of gossip in group dynamics and found that while gossip can sometimes serve social functions, it often backfires when it is negative. When people gossip negatively, others see them as less trustworthy and reliable.

What Should You Do if Someone is Making False Claims About You?

If someone is making false claims about you, it can be tempting to respond in kind. However, using the same negative tactics as your competitors is never a good strategy. Instead, focus on what makes you strong and unique.

Ask Parents for Reviews

Most people are willing to share their good experiences if you simply ask. Testimonials and feedback from parents you have helped can definitely make a difference. So take the time to collect feedback and make sure these reviews are easy to find on your website.

Focus on Your Strengths

You have received thorough training that has prepared you to be a great sleep consultant. Your ability to help parents and show sincere empathy in your interactions makes you different. Bring out these qualities in your communication with parents. Make sure your language shows your dedication and compassion. 

Manifest Love and Grow Your Skills

Unfortunately, greed and competition can lead some sleep consultants to speak poorly of others. Rise above this behavior by manifesting love and focusing on growing your skills. When you interact with others with love and empathy, parents will quickly see through your competitors’ negative talk and see their hearts for what they truly are.

This approach can actually encourage more parents to choose to work with you, as they see your professionalism and kindness in contrast to the negativity of others (Lind, Kray, & Thompson, 2001).

Stay true to your values and focus on what you do best. In this way you can build a strong reputation that stands on its own merit. Show parents that you are committed to helping them and their children, and let your actions speak louder than any false claims made against you.

At this institute, we teach the importance of values, empathy, and ethics. A successful sleep consultant combines professional expertise with genuine compassion and integrity. This approach helps our graduates become not only skilled but also trusted and respected sleep consultants.

Let us commit to being kind and supportive in our professional interactions. Together, we can create a community where we can all do our best work for the families who rely on us.


Skowronski, J. J., Carlston, D. E., Mae, L., & Crawford, M. T. (1998). Spontaneous trait transference: Communicators take on the qualities they describe in others Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(4), 837–848.

Hartgerink, C. H., van Beest, I., Wicherts, J. M., & Williams, K. D. (2015). The ordinal effects of ostracism: a meta-analysis of 120 Cyberball studies. PloS one, 10(5), e0127002.

Kniffin, K.M., Wilson, D.S. Utilities of gossip across organizational levels. Hum Nat 16, 278–292 (2005)

Lind, E. A., Kray, L. J., & Thompson, L. (2001). The Social Construction of Injustice: Fairness Judgments in Response to Own and Others’ Unfair Treatment by Authorities. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.