“Did you hear about Emily’s affair? She was seen at a restaurant having dinner with a man that was not her husband. I mean the nerve of that woman! Her husband is ill and she is fooling around with another man! I called several of my friends and asked them if they knew about her affair! I will get at the bottom of this if it kills me.” This rumor spread like wildfire in a small community in the mid-west. The truth of the matter was Emily was having dinner with her brother whom she had not seen in 15 years. This is the fabric of out-of-control gossip.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a gossip as:
a: person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others
b: rumor or report of an intimate nature
c: a chatty talk
Gossipmongers are people who indulge in such useless talk about others’ personal or private lives. It is a means of sharing views and information but introduces errors or variation in the actual information which is real. Gossip is sometimes referred to spreading of false or dirty information about someone after distorting the real facts. Gossip can also involve discussion of scandals.
I hear more and more people talking about their friends, family members and co-workers behind their backs. Frankly I am tired of it. It seems to me we ought to stop people from being a participant in gossiping. Gossip can end lifetime friendships, divide families, and can destroy businesses and partnerships. It does so much damage in today’s society.
You may recall back in high school where we all joined in talking about the social defunct students who walked amongst us. People would talk about scandalous parties where students were involved in immoral acts. Even the status of certain parents and their jobs or houses they lived in was all fodder for the rumor mill. I remember those days well. Did I participate in gossip during my school years? Of course I did! We all did.
As we get older most of us realize how damaging gossip can be and tend to shy away from it; however, we all know those who just thrive on gossip and look for any excuse to talk about someone. The Inquirer magazine fills a void for many gossips, but most gossips prefer hometown, juicy tales of neighbors and townsfolk. They will share any lie or contrived story for the unsuspecting person who comes along their way. Many gossips have no idea and could probably care less about the damage they do to couples, individuals, and families! How many marriages have been destroyed by a gossip? I see it all the time in my practice. I have had countless couples share stories with me about a friend who started a rumor about someone and the marriage ended up in divorce.
I remember when my daughter was a sophomore in high school and came home one day very upset. She told me that one of her friends had started a rumor about her. I told her not to respond but just leave it alone. I also told her that when someone spreads lies and rumors about fellow classmates, one of them will eventually confront them and it will not be pretty. I always encourage my clients to talk positively when talking about others, like a soon-to-be ex-spouse, former co-workers and friends because “whatever is whispered in secret, will be shouted from the rooftops.” Even though you may think you are telling someone something in confidence out of concern, the information you share will most likely be shared with others. It’s amazing on how many people like to gossip. The trouble that goes with it is not worth it!
My tips on how to deal with a gossip:
• When someone comes to you and starts to gossip, stop them immediately and ask that person if they would mind going to the person they are gossiping about and share it with them. This will stop them in their tracks. This works! I have done this many times with success.
• Ask the person who is gossiping what the point is of sharing personal information? Ask them what they are getting out of it.
• Tell the person who is gossiping that it makes them look small and immature.
• Ask them how they would feel if someone gossiped about them and how would he/she deals with it. Would they want the rumors, gossip, and lies to continue or be stopped?
• One of my favorite questions is to ask the person who is gossiping, “Can we pray about this?” You can ask this question even if you are not a regular church member or a person of faith. The shock value you will get will be priceless!
• Finally, you can simply walk away.
Try these tips. They really do work. I have used them all and have gotten some great results. Don’t be afraid to confront someone that gossips about you or your friends when it’s libel or can get someone hurt. I guarantee you, when you don’t participate in gossip you’re not going to have people attack you or confront you about a rumor, lies or telling secrets.
Have you been a victim of gossip and need help getting over it? Do you want to confront a gossip who is harming your family? Do you need help in moving on and letting go of someone who hurt you through gossip? Are you someone who needs help in stopping your gossip habit? If you answered yes to any of these questions, give Dr. Mike a call he can help you. Call him at 303.456.0555 if you have any questions.