As I get older I am more aware of how I spend my spare time. Lately I’ve been trying to stay away from people that gossip, but it’s like a smell… no matter where I go it follows. And one of these gossipers is a friend. Oddly enough, the class I taught earlier this morning was about how my client could focus more on her inner self and not everyone around her and the negativity that came with certain friendships.
I have an abundance of knowledge but hardly ever apply my knowledge to my life. Yes! I’m working on that!
But let’s continue. There are two pieces to gossip. The first piece is speaking gossip. The second piece is listening to gossip. If you’re listening to gossip you’re just as guilty as the person sharing it. I’m sure you know that though!
My advice when someone is sharing gossip, say “I’ll tell you what. When we’re done talking about this particular person, let’s continue the conversation.” That’s the first thing. The second thing, if they’re gossiping about a person, I will generally say to them “Why don’t you and I go to that person and share this information with them, because I’m sure it’s information that they’d like to hear.”
Not that you’d actually go so deep to involve yourself more, this generally would make the gossiper step back and reflect on his/her actions.
Theres soooo many things we can be doing with our time and sooooo many topics we could be discussing than other people and their business. I personally don’t care because I have issues myself I need to tend to.
More advice from me, stay away from gossipers. Gossipers feel fun/exciting, but they inevitably drive wedges between people, ruin reputations, and break up people’s friendships and relationships. Instead, gravitate towards people who mind their own business.
Somebody very close to me recently was hurt very deeply by some bad gossip that they heard third hand. And I will tell you, as I’ve already articulated in this post, it’s very destructive. So don’t be a listener of it. When you hear it, say “I’m going to check out of this conversation, I’m not that comfortable talking about them.” Or say “Why don’t we go talk to them together and then all three of us can address it.” Or even better, avoid the call in its entirety if this person has a repetitive problem of gossiping.
Just recently, an associate of mine always called early in the morning, constantly, back to back, I mean, you’d think it was an emergency, that’s how often she’d call. When I’d answer she only wanted to gossip about how awful her friends are and tell all their personal business. Now my morning was splattered with the emotional mud of gossip, feeling disappointed and hesitant to get together in the future. It could be months before we got together again, partly because of the heavy feeling this person always left me with.
However, I ached for relationships that challenged me to be my best self and held me accountable to be kind and loving. To create trustworthy relationships that were strong enough to handle complete transparency, I committed to putting honesty and kindness first, regardless of the fear of my friend’s reaction.
And I have just that, and I cherish these relationships that push me to be a better person.
Gossiping is an unhealthy habit but so easy to indulge in—like that delicious Portillo’s chocolate cake that you enjoy but makes you regret it afterwards. (Yum! All my Chicago people know what I mean).
If you check in with yourself, you may find that gossiping only fulfills an artificial way to feel closer to people. I provided my client in my Art Therapy class today with 5 essential steps to avoid gossipers and live a more fulfilling life.
STEP 1: Observe yourself and your interactions.
The first step is to observe your daily conversations and how you interact. Do your relationships energize or deplete you? Does your social interchanges support your values and best self, or do they undermine true connection? Determine where a conversation or relationship starts to feel off. Does it happen when talking about others, when you’re self-deprecating, or when discussing depressing world events?
STEP 2: Identify what relationships and circumstances make you vulnerable to gossip.
After observing yourself for a couple of weeks, pinpoint what you don’t like and the people who you talk to that are an active or passive participant in gossip. Consciously decide what you want instead and define exactly what that might look like.
STEP 3: Choose your starting point.
After you’ve figured out the trouble spot, decide where you want to begin. Don’t try to change everything at once because it’s likely you won’t be successful; it’s far more effective to start small. Since I identified that gossiping with my friend only happened when she called, I chose to open a discussion with her in the same manner, over the phone. Anticipate, either a failed friendship or less calls from this person. But is this person a true friend anyway? I mean if they are talking about others, sure enough they’re talking about you too!
STEP 4: Design your success strategy.
Just like a basketball or football coach sketching out strategies for their players, it’s helpful for you to do the same. Perhaps, you begin by pruning your own behavior from tendencies of encouraging gossip in conversations. Or, if you decide to start with a particular relationship like me, set a time and place to create safety and needed privacy for a meaningful conversation. Plan out what you’re going to say and what to do if they react.
STEP 5: Take ACTION!
It could be easy to talk yourself out of setting a boundary for gossip or unhealthy behavior—don’t! Don’t allow apprehension or fear to keep you from taking a step in the right direction, no matter how small your progress is. Follow through. Regardless of how the conversation goes, it will launch a whole new level of self-respect and confidence.
What’s most important is that you listen to your own heart. Pay attention to what feels right to you and act on it.
What I told my class is that, Gossip’s a little bit like sipping on poison. The longer you do it, the sicker you get. So avoid it wherever possible. Hope that was helpful! Until tomorrow, be courageous.