Gossip is anything that includes idle chatter or rumors about the personal or private lives of others. Whether or not it’s true, it doesn’t matter. Sharing negative things that you would never say to a person’s face behind their back is such a huge betrayal.
I know, we’d all like to think that we would never stoop to gossip, but yet in reality, we all do it, if we’re honest. Who can resist telling someone else a secret? Or revealing something that shows we are “in the know?!” There are some who gossip but then have a conscience and feel guilty and apologize, and there are those who proudly share everyone’s secrets without any concern for the person they are talking about.
I USED TO GOSSIP
I used to gossip. Yes. Me. But hey – notice I said used to?
I had no problem repeating things, or telling stories about other people until my friend and fellow co-worker Paul Lovett got after me one day. (Yes, Paul is my hubby now, but this was this was years before we were married!) I believe it was one day when I was angrily relating something about a co-worker, and he stopped me dead in my tracks. He told me it was offensive that I would gossip to him, and that he didn’t need or want to hear it. I was stunned. I remember feeling the heat rise in my cheeks, and I’m sure they were flaming redder than a tomato. I remember we were standing in the staff boardroom. For Pete’s sake, I even remember what I was wearing. That’s how awful it was. A moment captured in time, and I was mortified. Traumatized. When we talked a few weeks later over tea, he brought it up again, and said it was the only thing he didn’t like about me. I remember feeling so embarrassed. I couldn’t even look at Paul, or talk to him for a couple of weeks, because I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself. He was absolutely right, and I had been behaving badly. I was certainly chastised, and boy did it work.
GOSSIP IS HARMFUL
Believe it or not, that embarrassing day was the day I changed for the better. I realized how harmful gossip was, and I stopped. After all, if you don’t have your integrity, what do you have? If you give your word that you won’t repeat something and you do, what is that? A lie. A broken promise. And I never, EVER want to be guilty of that again. Even if you are told something so juicy, and so salacious that you feel the need to break your promise of not telling anyone, don’t do it. Write it down. Then rip it up. Get it out of your system. You don’t need to tell anyone. If you do repeat it – it’s because of your pride, because you want someone to know that YOU know something you are not supposed to. Pride is a very strong, negative attribute. I read once that pride was like a big huge rock, rolling down a mountainside destroying everything in it’s path. Don’t let pride get the best of you!
GOSSIP IS DESTRUCTIVE
Gossip truly is destructive. It can hurt more than an arrow. We can heal from being shot from an arrow, but to heal from mean, vicious words takes a lot longer. Words go straight to our heart, where they fester, even if we have received an apology.
So, instead of being part of the gossipy chain (at work, or in a family) here’s what to do!
DECIDE NOT TO GOSSIP
Make a commitment right now to yourself that you refuse to gossip. Set yourself some boundaries, and choose your course of action if someone starts gossiping to you.
Don’t listen to others when they gossip. Put a stop to it right away. You can choose to say, “I’m really uncomfortable talking about this, if you continue I’ll have to leave”, or even be blunter and say, “please don’t gossip around me, I don’t need to hear it!” Trust me, those who are telling you gossip will be either be so embarrassed or angry that I’m sure they won’t ever try to talk with you again. You may lose a friend with your stance, but hey, it’s worth it. Friends don’t let their friend’s gossip.
DON’T JUDGE OTHERS BASED ON GOSSIP
Don’t judge people based on gossip you hear. Everyone is biased, and they will throw their own take on it. You might hear something terrible about a person, but it’s a jaded, slanted view. You need to make your own mind up, instead of being influenced by a gossiper.
Think before you speak. Don’t ever repeat something just because another person told you. Will it damage another person’s reputation? What will you do if you spread something that isn’t true? What if you’re spreading gossip simply because YOU don’t like that person? That’s not fair, and it’s not right.
GET RID OF FRIENDS WHO GOSSIP
Stay away from people who gossip to you. Not only will they gossip about others, but they will certainly gossip about you too. Gossipers do stab others in the back, that’s what gossiping is. If you gossip, you fall into the same boat. Don’t be a gossiper, stop stabbing people today.
As is with all gossip, you have no idea what is truth or lies, so it’s best not to say anything at all.
PARENTS – DON’T LET YOUR CHILD GOSSIP
For those of you who are parents – teach your kids not to gossip about others. Kids are so negatively impacted, because gossip destroys their confidence, and it affects their self-esteem. It can also lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and anxiety.
Kids usually gossip or spread rumors because they want to feel better about themselves, to feel accepted, to get attention, power, or seek revenge. Some even do it because they are bored. Teach your children that it’s never okay to talk about others, no matter how they are feeling. If your child is the person being gossiped about, help them find a way to address it.
GOSSIP HURTS EVERY TIME
Gossip hurts everyone, and it hurts every time. Get out of the habit of spreading something that doesn’t need to be spread.
Stop gossip where it starts.