Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt 7:1-2)
It is extremely hard not to judge others. We have a tendency to "draw conclusions" based only on what we see or hear of our friends and acquaintances. We make assumptions without knowing all the facts or relying on only one side of a story. It is NOT our place to judge. It is NOT our place to criticize. It is NOT our place to utter the words "I told you so".
Gossip, in its roughest form, is judging. We take what we've heard and proclaim it anyone who might be interested in it, draw conclusions from what we think we know about any given situation, criticize the person or persons involved and follow it up with "I knew that was going to happen" or "I saw that coming"!
We also tend to delight in the suffering of others when we gossip. Some can't wait to get on the phone and chatter about what they've heard! Shame on us (and don't sit there shaking your head saying "not me, I'd never do that" -because we have all done it)!!! It's human nature! So, how do we stop it? The same way we avoid everything else that God has told us not to do - through prayer (and digging our heals in when it comes to us). Our lives as Christians is ever-changing. We began with the very simple sins (i.e. - those unattractive adjectives that flowed through our speech like water through a sieve), then on to the next and the one after that, and so on. Now it's time to look at the ones that hurt others. Stand firm and say "no" to the temptation to partake the negative; make it a positive. When someone comes to you, or you feel the need to gossip - stop right there! Instead of glibly uttering words that cut someone down or listening to it: lift them up in prayer! Put their plight in God's hands! It's really not that difficult, unless your entire existence is vessel of hurt and pain towards others.
Do not rejoice in the pain of another. Pray for the strength to keep your big mouth shut. Pray for the persons involved in the gossip. Pray for the ones spreading the gossip. Who better to "gossip" to than the Lord. Tell him! Turn it into a prayer for yourself and others. Thank him for allowing you to bring it to him and ask him to remove the desire to spread it. You can even go so far as to thank him for not allowing that unpleasant situation to be yours! Fill your heart with Jesus and there will be no room for anything else, including gossip! Love one another, pray for one another but don't judge one another!