A Gossiper Will Gossip About You, Too
If you gossip to me, chances are you gossip about me.When a someone gossips to you, especially when they say, “I’m telling you this because I trust you. DON’T TELL …” or “DON’T SAY ANYTHING…” Don’t ignore the red flag that might go up that something feels “wrong.” If this is a rare conversation with this person, it may not be gossip so much as helpful information. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to tell the difference. However, if this person continually entrusts you with “gossip” about other people, chances are you are being snared by a gossiper. If so, that gossiper most likely is gossiping about you behind your back, too. Listen to your gut and set your boundaries. You might say, “I really prefer to focus on the positive, let’s talk about something different.” Or, “That’s really not my business, let’s talk about…” and change the subject. An even more firm approach is to say, “I’m really not comfortable talking about other people. It’s one of my personal boundaries. So, let’s talk about something else.”
Tips for Dealing with Gossip:
- Don’t take gossip personally. That is often difficult to do, however, often, it’s not about you, it’s about the gossiper.
- Ask yourself, are you SURE it’s true? Maybe there’s a kernel of truth in the “story,” however, realize that some people are masterful at exaggerating stories and twisting words to their own benefit. If you didn’t see it, hear it, or experience it first hand, you don’t really know if it’s true. Even then, we may interpret what we hear or see differently, and our interpretation could be wrong.
- Even if it IS true, do you need to repeat it? Is it helping anyone to repeat the gossip?
- Often, gossipers gossip out of their own insecurity or need for personal power. If possible, stop the gossiper in his/her tracks. Call them on it or walk away. If they don’t have someone to listen, there is no reward in gossiping.
- Act bored. Gossipers want you to be interested. Your reaction fuels their power. Act like you are not interested and they will be less likely to gossip to you in the future.
- Don’t participate in spreading the gossip. It can come back to haunt you.
- If someone shares gossip with you, others may hound you for more details. Curiosity gets the best of people. DON’T SHARE what you heard. Keep it to yourself!
- Keep your personal and professional information private. This is challenging for outgoing, talkative personalities, however, even more necessary. If the gossiper has no information, they don’t have anything to gossip about.
- Be careful what you share online. So much drama starts online in social networking, text messaging and, for older generations, in email. So often, what is written can be read many different ways and consequently misinterpreted. If online gossip is blatant, ignore it or call the person out. Gossip on the internet is there “forever” and can have devastating consequences.
Choose not to be a part of the gossip drama. Remember: If they gossip to you, chances are, they gossip about you.
What are some ways you deal with gossip? How do you help your children or students deal with gossip? Please comment below.
For more information about conflict education and caring communities, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Free The Children, Conflict Education for Strong and Peaceful Minds. Available in both print and electronic versions!