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Tips for Handling Gossip

Tips for Handling Gossip

Tips for Handling Gossip

Psst...I've Got Some Good Gossip!

Advice Seeker :
Dear April Masini,

I have a friend who is always commenting about everyone; and while I am interested in hearing what she has to say, I always feel badly afterward.  Do you have any advice for dealing with someone who gossips all the time? 
Gossip Handler


April Masini's Advice :

Dear Gossip Handler,

It’s called idle talk, hearsay, grapevine, scuttlebutt, rumor, dirt, slander, scandal - whatever the name, it’s gossip just the same, and it’s all ugly. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion about a public figure or discussing a class topic, a song, a movie, or even a Sunday School lesson. But when we cross the line from discussion over into ridicule, sarcasm and scorn, we have gone too far.  More, it’s easy to start gossip, but it’s hard to stop it - and once gossip starts, it quickly destroys group morale and damages friendships and reputations.

Anything said against someone that tears them down instead of building them up is gossip.  And we may not realize it, but the things that we say about others can damage the people that we are talking to as well as the ones we are talking about.  When you hear gossip like this, it always tells you more about the one speaking than the one of whom he speaks. Instead of filling their minds with things that are true, honest, kind, just, pure, and of good report, we fill them with ugly thoughts of contempt.

There are three distinct ways to handle gossip: 

Prevent it:
Gossip prevention rests with two people - the person speaking it, and the person listening to it.  The best way to stop gossip is to:
1) Demonstrate loyalty and friendship by refusing to listen to or spread it - simply do not permit insinuations or negative discussion at all. 
2) Should someone begin to repeat a story about someone else, politely say that you would prefer to talk about that person when they is  are present.
3) Or, listen politely (without any comment), and change the subject as soon as possible - do not repeat the information to anyone else.
4) If someone confides personal information to you, keep it to yourself.

Ignore it:
Sometimes rumors get started despite the best prevention methods … The best way to defuse gossip is to ignore it.
1) It is difficult to ignore untruths spoken about us, and many times our first reaction is indignation and righteous anger, however - the best response is no response - none at all.
2) If gossip is directed at you, behave as if the rumors are not affecting you; otherwise, you may be perceived as weak.
3) Instead of lashing out defensively, continue with your life and disregard the talk - ultimately your deeds and actions will overcome any gossip - what you do, and how you behave, will speak for itself.

Confront it:
Decide whether confronting the lies will make them go away or cause you to waste time answering accusations. If you decide to face the accusations, you need to ascertain if you should confront a group or just the source.
1) If possible, privately talk with the source of the gossip --if you know who it is …. This will probably allow you to get to the root of the problem without causing more damage. It is important to remain calm and detached during the conversation, and do not accuse.
2) If you elect to confront a group of critics, be to the point and remain calm.  I’d recommend simply stating that you are aware of what is being said about you and that it’s sad how the truth gets so distorted…Say no more (literally) - nothing else - don’t go into any justification at all.  Otherwise, while getting the gossip out in the open could relieve tension, you could risk inadvertently escalating the problem and inviting more accusations and negative comments.

As upsetting as it can be, don’t let gossip cause you to your waste time and energy on it when you need to be focusing on important issues concerning your life or completing a project…The best way to handle gossip is to avoid it as much as you can and then ignore the rest.