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Silencing the Gossip Machine

November 6, 2008


I’ve been doing some deep thinking lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop my habit of gossiping. I think that when I engage in gossip it doesn’t put me in a good headspace. It makes me focus on the negative aspects of people and it doesn’t leave room for the benefit of the doubt or allow people the grace to become better versions of themselves. It doesn’t allow me to extend compassion or kindness the way I would like to, either.

Gossip is fun in a dark sort of way. It is always a sort of powerful feeling to envision that you are better or have fewer problems than other people and it is entertaining to imagine you know the intimate details of a person’s life.

I think that there is probably a fine line between gossip and chatting with friends and exchanging one’s experiences with and perception of others, but I think that the line is definitely there if you look for it. If I can generally find that line, I think I will become a better version of myself.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Evelyn permalink
    November 6, 2008 9:03 pm

    I like this post. I think gossip makes people focus on the negative because it is a very negative thing. I have seen it do a lot of damage to a lot of people here at work. I have even been “talked to” behind closed doors because of someone listening to gossip instead of asking me what was actually said.

    I know I stop to think before I speak a lot more than I used to, because I don’t want to gossip and hurt other people, because you are absolutely right, it can be a very fine line.

    Kudos to you for being brave enough to put it on a blog. A lot of people wouldn’t.

  2. Mon permalink
    November 7, 2008 7:50 am

    Brave post.

    I think gossiping is a very natural part of being human. We are nothing if not social creatures.

    But it’s that fine line you mention. Yes, when it becomes spiteful, lacks compassion, or seeks to spread negative perceptions of others, well, that’s our natural social tendencies gone awry.

  3. Angelina permalink
    November 8, 2008 6:28 pm

    I never think of you as a gossiping kind of person.

    I don’t see anything wrong with talking about people. I know that I get talked about and I know it isn’t always positive. That’s life. I’m not always easy to like and being rather vocal about my own opinions certainly means I often step on other people’s toes.

    I love talking about people are a constant fascination with me but I rarely ever feel real malice for others and I truly don’t believe I spread it. If I do, I’m certainly not conscious of it. I think because I know that there is always room to see a person evolve and grow out of my expectation. Just as I can sometimes do too.

    If I couldn’t unburden my experiences (the negative ones) with friends then it would remain bottled up inside me and that’s really unhealthy for me.

    But I’ll be more careful with what I say with you so that you don’t feel obligated so often to have to find that line.

  4. Lisa permalink
    November 8, 2008 7:30 pm

    Thanks Mom & Mon.

    Angelina-This is not a burden for my friends to bear, I need to be in control of myself. I can always change the subject if I'm not comfortable. I'm not averse to talking about people with my friends either, it's just up to me to keep it within comfortable boundaries. If it makes me feel bad afterwards about how I was approaching the chat or the content then that's my problem.

  5. Tonia permalink
    November 8, 2008 7:57 pm

    I definitely think it is human nature to talk about others. For me it is in the intention. At work, which is a microcosm unto itself, I tend to nip things in the bud by changing the subject. Sometimes this takes superhuman strength and I don’t always rise to the occasion but I do try. I also have a very firm policy of not repeating things told to me( if told in confidence)-this has resulted in people coming to me to unload because they know it won’t go anywhere. It kind of sucks sometimes. There is a fine line and I think it is great that you are making a conscious effort to be aware of it. **I wish I were more like Angelina. It really bugs me when I find out I am being talked about in a critical way. I tend to be a people pleaser and thin skinned. BTW the book is on the way to you. My email at home is messed up so I haven’t been able to check it-in case you left a message. Have a good weekend. -tonia

  6. Fiddlin' Girl permalink
    November 8, 2008 9:27 pm

    Ouch! This one hurt! I have a hard time not gossiping! It IS fun in a dark way. That is what makes it so difficult to not do it. 😦
    I heard someone say, “Talk about someone else like you want people to talk about you.” I have to remember that often, sad to say. 🙂
    Love to you all!
    Sarah Heckendorn

  7. Angelina permalink
    November 9, 2008 3:16 am

    Tonia- maybe it bothers you because you don’t do things to deserve it but I know that I can really be a challenge and surely friends need to unburden themselves to others about me from time to time. I would mind if I had to hear it. I don’t mind knowing it’s going on.

    Lisa- I do see what you’re saying and I think it’s not a bad thing. But I know that sometimes we talk about others because we really need to. Just today (ironically) I talked to a mom at the toystore whose child was in Max’s classroom. It turns out she had a horrible year too for the same reason Max did and that was surely gossip? We certainly weren’t saying nice things about their teacher but it was great to find out that it wasn’t just my kid that the teacher made miserable and I’m very happy this mom didn’t keep her mouth shut about it just because what she had to say was negative. Sometimes it’s very helpful to hear other people agree. It’s not like we’re screaming out to the world that this person is a bad teacher, but between us we can agree we didn’t like her style or appreciate the bad experience she gave our kids. But maybe that is within the line you’re talking about.

    I just don’t ever feel you say mean things about people. But it’s good to pay attention to that line you speak of and trying to become a better version of one’s self is never wasted energy.

  8. Lisa permalink
    November 9, 2008 3:47 am

    Angelina-I don’t think that falls under gossip as you relate it. I think there is value in sharing experiences even if they are negative. If you keep harping on it time after time about these same things with this woman and keep revisiting the same old thing just because that common experience feels good and it feels kind of good to talk about the teacher in a negative way, then I think it becomes gossip. So, yes, it’s that line I was talking about. But I think that line is a personal line; we might draw it in different places or sometimes in the same place. Depends on the circumstances, I think.

  9. Lisa permalink
    November 9, 2008 3:54 am

    Tonia-I’m pretty thin-skinned too. Got the package, more on that later! Thanks so much.

    Hi Sarah! That’s a good phrase to keep in mind.

  10. Tonia permalink
    November 9, 2008 3:57 am

    I think there is a difference of venting and gossip and again it boils down to intention. I know I do stuff that pisses people off and I realize some people may not like me for whatever reason(s). I have a co-worker that feels pretty much the same way about another co-worker as I do. The first co-worker and I have an agreement: What we say to each other about the other co-worker is only for us to know and is a form of venting. If someone else heard it, well it would be gossip I am sure. We have to let off steam or we’d blow. I am trying to figure out my thoughts on this as I go along so bear with me. Good topic, Lisa!

  11. Mojavi permalink
    November 9, 2008 6:48 am

    good post!!

    I hate gossips. I do vent with one friend, and only that friend. Mostly because they know in all honesty I love the person/people I am venting about.

    Talking to someone about a person they have no vested interest in is gossiping.

  12. Lisa permalink
    November 10, 2008 3:28 am

    I agree Tonia. I think you put it more succinctly that I could have.

    Hi Mojavi! Nice to see you again. How’s that new baby?

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