Gossip — part harmless fun, part just something women are made to do.
I don’t accept either.
Talking negatively about someone behind their back isn’t harmless, and we women have much more valuable things to do with our time and energy. Surely we can think of other ways to bond.
Sadly, I’m guilty of gossiping too, but there is a high price for it, and I want to do better.
It Doesn’t Fix Any Problems
By talking about someone behind his or her back we don’t give that person an opportunity to take account of what we’ve seen and feel. We don’t give him or her the chance to either change something we view as negative or explain to us his or her side of things to help us better understand.
We Waste Our Time and Energy
What good does it do to use our precious time and energy talking about people when they aren’t even present to consider what we are saying and make a change?
Maybe on a jerk level it makes us feel better to bash them. Maybe it makes us feel like the person gossiping with us is on our side, but if it can’t actually improve the situation, is it worth it?
It Doesn’t Help Us Grow
It can be very hard to tell another person how he or she hurt you or even if you don’t agree with that person about something. But if we are open with mature people, this can be a way for them to grow. Conversely, we must be mature when people come to us so we can grow as well.
It Can Make Things Bigger Than They Really Are
When we have a problem with someone and don’t go to him or her personally IN A LOVING, RESPECTFUL MANNER but instead talk about the situation to others, we are likely causing our emotions to get more and more tied up in the situation. We are growing it to become something bigger than it needs to be.
Hurts Our Relationship with That Person
Instead of doing the hard, important work and working together to reconcile a problem or differences, it only alienates us from others to keep talking about them behind their backs. We could quickly deal with any hurt and possibly have it make us closer, or we can keep putting wedges between us — the more time that passes and the more we talk about our annoyances.
Talking about someone behind his or her back often also makes us feel awkward when we are around that person, further causing a wedge between us.
We Poison Others
When we talk negatively to other people about a person we are possibly poisoning others’ view of them.
What if the person we are annoyed with was was just having a bad day when we were hurt, or made a mistake, or maybe our personalities just don’t mesh, or maybe there was a misunderstanding?
We Are Being Jerks
How do we want others to treat us? That’s how we need to act.
I don’t want people talking negatively about me behind my back. I want people in my life who will stand up for me if others have a problem with me or misunderstand me and who will come to me directly if I’ve hurt them or am doing something wrong, so we can work things out together.
People Don’t Know if They Can Trust Us
We may feel closer to the person with whom we are gossiping, but somewhere deep down people remember your actions and words and know they may be next.
People will feel safer around us if we don’t talk poorly about others.
We Are Setting the Wrong Example
If we desire to raise children who don’t gossip ABOUT US or others, they need to see we don’t gossip.
Alternative Plan to Gossiping
- Is this dangerous? If what is bothering you is actually dangerous, don’t feel bad to contact the proper authorities. If I find out someone is hurting someone, I’m going straight to the police.
- Or on the other hand, is this something that’s really no big deal? Are you overreacting? Am I being too easily offended? If you aren’t sure, consider privately speaking to someone mature you can trust who doesn’t have an issue with this person and listen to her thoughts on the situation.
- Find a private time when emotions aren’t high and respectfully talk to the person you have an issue with. I believe this is better done in person or at least over the phone. Sometimes I would rather text someone because I prefer to write everything down and read it 56 times to make sure I don’t say something I don’t mean or that could be hurtful. But I still think it would be better to write down everything we want to say and then read it to the other person or even just write down bullet points, than to send our feelings in a message. It’s just very difficult to accurately hear a person’s tone when we read her words over texts or email and it often causes more misunderstandings.
- Really listen to the other person’s side. Some people can respond immediately, and some may need some time to first process things. Give people what they need. Then be willing to accept we may be wrong. Maybe I was mistaken. Maybe they aren’t wrong and I’m not wrongl; it’s just a matter of different opinions. I’ve even realized a couple times that for whatever reason some people just don’t mesh, and I just didn’t “click” with a certain person. I can still be kind and forgiving even to people I can’t connect with.
- Apologize if necessary and accept apologies in a kind way.
- If the person seems clearly to be in the wrong and unwilling to talk further, go to a mature and loving mutual friend with the situation. Sometimes you need a mediator present to clearly see both sides and to help keep things calm.
- If these attempts don’t work and the person is hostile toward you and things cannot be reconciled, forgive him or her anyway (for your sake and theirs) and peacefully move on with your life with proper boundaries in place without talking bad about this person.
- Stay open to reconciliation. People can change.