You walk into a room and the conversation grinds to a halt. All eyes turn to you, some flicking away with guilt, some openly staring, as you grapple with that sinking feeling in your stomach. You just KNOW they were gossiping about you.
We’ve all been the recipient of the damage the gossip inferno leaves in its wake. Gossip is something that we’ve all found ourselves sharing as well. As women with our gift of gab, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint as it sneaks into everyday conversation almost without us realizing it. While discussing our lives is a perfectly good thing, our conversations can easily take a turn to spreading rumors, unkind thoughts, and even outright lies.
Our conversations can easily take a turn to spreading rumors, unkind thoughts, and even outright lies.
Our involvement in gossip means we’re complicit to its spread, even if we never intended to let that tidbit slip. We certainly never want to feel that crawling feeling of being the topic of conversation behind our backs or the pain and shame of having shared information that wasn’t true and hurting a friend. It’s very wise for us to take a step back and weigh whether gossip is as harmless as some may claim. So how do we keep ourselves from fueling the fire?
Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
We’ve all been there, right? You hear about the neighbor whose husband might be sleeping with his secretary, divorce rumors circulate, and you may have even witnessed an argument as they exited their car, yet you have no solid proof that anything other than normal marital woes are occurring. Then you meet up with your best gal pal and she asks you, “Did you hear about so-and-so?”
A simple redirect of the conversation can stop this gossip wildfire in its tracks.
BOOM! You’re now faced with a decision — do you follow this rabbit trail wherever it leads, even though you have no concrete information? Or do you simply say, “I did, and it sounds awful. Tell me about your day!” A simple redirect of the conversation can stop this gossip wildfire in its tracks. If we refuse to jump into speculation and allow our imaginations to run wild with the morsels we’ve picked up along the way, we can keep ourselves from fanning the flames.
Trust vs. Telling Tales
Many a friendship has been lost because of gossip. While most people consider idle gossip “harmless,” some gossip is a deep betrayal that may never be able to be repaired. The question is, is it worth the risk of finding out which form of gossip you’re engaging in by furthering its spread?
This is especially true in the case of divulging information that was shared in the strictest confidence. Rest assured that anyone who runs their mouth to others, exposing details of personal information you shared with them in confidence, deserves to be cut from your circle. They’re snakes in the grass, gossiping about you like they’ll gossip about everyone else. They won’t hesitate to break your trust.
Being trustworthy is more valuable than serving up the latest plate of juicy gossip.
If you regularly engage in gossip, you risk becoming this person yourself, and there’s nothing worse than the feeling that you’ve deeply hurt someone by what you’ve said. Set the example by refraining from gossiping and keep another’s confidence. Being trustworthy is more valuable than serving up the latest plate of juicy gossip.
Opportunity May Knock, but You Don’t Have To Answer
When the opportunity to gossip comes up, ask yourself if this is beneficial, not just for you, but for the person feeding you this information and for the person(s) this information is about. We will ALL be given opportunities to gossip. I know I have been, and sadly I’ve engaged in this more than I would like. Having to go and apologize for untrue rumors that you’ve helped spread is awful. It’s even worse when you lose a friend you really care about, all because you didn’t exercise restraint when speaking.
Instead of gossiping, we can seek to encourage others, uplift them, and speak about their good qualities.
It’s a hard habit to break, but it can be broken by refusing to parrot what we hear. Instead of gossiping, we can seek to encourage others, uplift them, speak about their strengths and good qualities, rather than what they MAY have done last Tuesday at the coffee shop.
When considering repeating something you have heard, ask yourself:
Is this true?
Is this kind?
Is it beneficial?
Is it relevant to the conversation?
Is this worth someone’s reputation?
In this way, you can help yourself to steer clear of opportunities to engage in a gossipy conversation that will do no good to your personal growth or reputation much less anyone else’s.
Ultimately, we should remember that a good reputation can be destroyed by the poison that is gossip, whether we’re the gossiper or the woman on the receiving end. The best thing to do is nip it in the bud. Endeavor to make it clear to friends and family, that all sparks of gossip end with you and you won’t fan the flames. You can set the tone for having meaningful, encouraging conversations by steering away from gossip and helping others do the same.