I have 3 short specific questions regarding lashon hara.
1. If the intent is good (making conversation, being nice) would it be fair to say the sentiment is not lash on hara without bad intent (saying you haven’t seen someone in many years, without bad intent…) Is this lashon hara?
2. Is it lashon hara to defend yourself against accusations? (Someone accuses you of being sneaky, and you say I’m not sneaky and here’s why…the intent is to defend yourself.) Is this lashon hara?
3. Is it lashon hara if no one hears? If something is said quietly and no one but me (and G-d hears it), is it lashon hara (assuming the statement was said in anger and later regretted but no one else heard…)
If no one hears whay you say it is not considered lashon hara. Also defending yourself is permitted, (we find that Yitschak told Esav that his brother Yaakov took the birthright to defend Yaakov). If what you say whilst having a conversation cannot be interpreted negatively, it is not considered lashon hara.