No one likes to be talked about behind his/her back. But what's worse than that is FINDING OUT that someone is talking about your back, AND finding out what exactly it is they said.
For one, it's never a good thing. No one ever talks behind your back saying, "OMG, she is so pretty!" or "I thought she did a great job on that project." No, it's always, "Wow, is it just me or has she gotten fat?" or "Well, she could have done a much better job on that..." It's disappointing that our culture is so obsessed with comparing ourselves to others and we continue the teenage behavior of putting others down to feel better about ourselves. These are the actions of insecure people. Happy, confident people don't go around bad-mouthing their friends/family/coworkers/etc. So it's sad that so many people are that unhappy that they want to make others unhappy, too.
For me, I'd rather you just come to me if you have an issue. If you think I was mean to you, tell me that I hurt your feelings, don't tell your friend to tell me that I hurt your feelings. I'm not promising I'm going to care about your feelings (I probably won't), but grow up and just tell me instead of playing telephone. And if you tell someone older than me that you have a problem with me, like my mom or my supervisor, it just makes me feel like a child getting reprimanded, rather than an adult taking constructive criticism. Man up, grow some balls, and deal with conflict face-to-face so I can take it like a man (I wish I had some feminine equivalents to these idioms, but I don't).
*Read this article in Bethesda Magazine about unhappiness, especially in those people who seem to "have it all."