Q: I sometimes want to discuss someone’s personality, to define their nature without any intention to defame them. Is it permissible for me to say, for example, that someone is sensitive, so that others will know to be careful not to insult her, or to say that someone is easy to anger or is snobby, so that others will know how to deal with them, or is this type of terminology lashon hara?
A: Talking about people’s natures and including negative aspects of their personalities is considered lashon hara. Even when discussing a common personality trait, if it is relayed with negative overtones, it is outright lashon hara. There is therefore no heter to speak, as long as there is no direct constructive purpose involved, and one should keep away from such conversations. When there is a specific toeles, then it is permissible to say, in accordance with the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.