Gossip. None of us think we do it, but the reality is many of us are more guilty than we would like to believe.
We’ve all heard the very well put quote, “What Susie says about Sally says more about Susie than Sally.”
Gossiping, even to your very best friend, about someone else sends a message to the person you’re talking about that you cannot be trusted. If you’re willing to talk poorly about someone else behind their back, why should anyone else trust that you won’t do that to them?
We talk a lot about this in our home and spend a fair amount of time trying to bring awareness to when it’s actually happening, shifting conversations to pull people in a better direction when it’s starting to creep in, and making a personal effort to change our internal thought patterns so this whole process starts more with our initial mindset vs. constantly having to recover from engaging in gossip in the first place.
There are two things we use as a gossip measuring stick any time someone’s name is brought up when they’re not there to participate in the conversation themselves.
- If it’s not “productive conversation” where you’re trying to make sense of why someone is making poor choices or seeking out ideas on how to confront someone on something, you’re likely gossiping.
- If that person were to overhear your conversation from outside the room without you knowing it, would they be happy or hurt by what was being said? If it would be hurtful, it’s gossip.
As far as I’m concerned, if I’m present in a conversation that’s turned into gossip and I’m doing nothing to at least even try to curve the conversation towards something more positive and productive, then I’m as guilty as the person or people that are doing the actual gossiping.
It’s about setting the tone for people around you by quietly leading by example. It’s about laying a foundation of trust that people know they, and the people they care about, are safe in. And, it’s about being committed to supporting people when they are in a time of need, whether they are ready to admit it or not.