New research carried out at Wake Forest University has found that we reveal a lot about ourselves in the way we talk about others. They found that how positively we speak about others is linked to how happy and emotionally stable we are ourselves. The study, which appears in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found strong associations between how positively a person judges others and then how happy, kind-hearted, emotionally stable and capable they are described by others.
By way of contrast, negative perceptions of others are linked to higher levels of narcissism and antisocial behavior. As Dustin Wood, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest and lead author of the study states, A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively. The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.
Thus our speech about others reveals information about our own characteristics, such as our well-being, and our mental health. Mindfulness helps us be more deliberate in the words we use, by enabling us be more aware of all the discussions taking place in the committee of voices running our minds. By practicing right speech, this study seems to suggest that we not only help our relationships become kinder. We also change our own level of happiness.
Wood et al, “Perceiver Effects as Projective Tests: What Your Perceptions of Others Say About You”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2010