What about gossip?
In describing principles of veterinary medical ethics, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends: "Veterinarians
should respect the rights of colleagues and other health professionals. No member shall belittle or injure the professional
standing of another member of the profession."
To that end, we suggest promoting the positive aspects of gossip by using the following acronym for the word gossip: GOOD
OR SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS INVOLVING PEOPLE (Osborne CA. The ethics and etiquette of good gossip. JAVMA 206 pages 1534 to 1537,
To earn a reputation for making good or supportive statements about others, we must continuously work on breaking the undesirable
habit of participating in negative gossip. Clearly separate conversations that are about someone from those that go against
someone. Recognize the difference between harmless and harmful conversation. How can we do this? When considering whether
to share gossip of a personal nature, ask yourself these questions:
Is it kind? Kindness has been likened to oil that takes the friction out of living.
Is it true? The greatest kindness we can offer is always to speak the truth.
Is it necessary? We should not only say kind things at the right time, but also learn to leave unsaid an unkind, though truthful,
statement at the tempting moment.
Because we have the legal right to tell something doesn't mean that it is morally right to tell it. Is gossip ethical? It
can be, if we talk about others in a way that we would like them to talk about us.
Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department
of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.