I make an effort to be a positive person. I am drawn to people and information so I can learn. I am also no stranger to people talking about me. Gossip, however, is something I cannot get used to. I am a subject of gossip right now, by someone I thought was a good friend. I pondered why this person wants to distress me, break confidence in our friendship, and allow others to disconnect with me. The truth is, gossip is painful. Spreading private information or negative judgments is a hurtful act.
Not always is talking about others wrong. Many people, myself included, have a natural curiosity about what’s going on with others in the community. I seek knowledge, and often read about others in biographies. It gives me an understanding of a person’s character through facts. There’s the difference in intention: interest in facts versus eagerness to know one-sided offensive opinions about a person.
We can all avoid or stop unwanted gossip by doing one of the following:
1. Change the subject. Redirect the focus from gossip simply by bringing up another subject of conversation. It sends a clear signal that you don’t want to talk about gossip.
2. Say something positive about the subject of the gossip. No matter how negative the gossip, there are positive qualities to that person. Try reminding the gossiper this by mentioning specific and positive things about the person that’s been targeted.
3. Resist gossip politely yet firmly. Confront and resist the gossiper by saying you don’t want to hear any more about the story. Saying something like,
“This sounds like gossip. I don’t really want to hear any more, so let’s just drop it.” It holds others accountable for their choice of words.
4. Point out what’s missing. You can challenge the gossip. Ask if the information is accurate, verified, or factual by pointing out specific times, events, or if they experienced every detail personally. You can help others see that gossip isn’t reliable information.
5. Turn gossip into positive energy. If you view the gossip as an opportunity to bless the people involved by sending positive energy to them, you can be more at peace. I practice this by praying for the person gossiping about me or others. It has helped me worry less, and to move forward.
“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” – Buddha.
Gossiping shows others the insecurity and mean-spiritedness about the person doing it. We can choose to participate or dissipate. But when you successfully stop gossip, you prevent further damage to relationships. Let’s spread love, not rumors.