How to Disengage from Gossip

Sunset Sky with dark orange hues

Gossip ushers in a lot of fun into conversations. All that frivolous talk about who wore what and why it didn’t suit him/her, the way she carries herself and what an odd couple they make, the way she laughs and how much he drinks…people have written novels, which center around gossip!

Light-hearted gossip may be harmless to some extent but it could be hurtful too. It has alienated many friends and created grave misunderstandings within families.

Why do people gossip:

  • They could be jealous of your talent
  • They want your attention
  • They want to ruin your relationships
  • They want to damage your reputation
  • They want to grab your position
  • They could be playing into the hands of others
  • Their own insecurities speak through gossip

It is very easy to say: “stop gossiping” but quite difficult to do so, as the pressure of peer group is so compelling that you don’t want to displease them, you don’t want to look “philosophical,” and later become their victim. You can’t distance yourself from gossipmongers, as this is an age-old practice. Even bosses like to listen to such persons.

So how to tackle them?

Just smile: It is better to refrain from adding any ammunition to the topic and just smile to convey an indirect message that you don’t want to be the part of a gossip group. A smile is worth a million words in some situations. Don’t even nod to unpleasant talk and don’t carry it forward.

Give a benefit of doubt: I have learnt this from Mr. serene, my dearest husband who chooses better words even for the person who has wronged him or taken him for a ride. He believes in the dictum: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” The compulsions of a gossipmonger could be greater than his goodness.

Believe in yourself: Don’t get influenced by negative talk when you can’t avoid it. Tell yourself that there are various kinds of people and we have to tolerate them if they happen to be colleagues. I have never changed my seat just because of a toxic gossipmonger around me. My positive vibes often reach them.

Don’t get upset: Now this could be quite challenging if the gossip is about you. There are two ways of handling this situation. One is better to ignore. Two – confront the person calmly. He may deny, she may throw the blame at you but they would get the message that you know their mentality. You wont even have to clarify your position, as people would get another topic of gossip – your boldness! People have gossiped about my boldness too.

Be transparent: Honesty and truthfulness may have lost its significance in today’s world but those who uphold these values are revered. Hypocrisy can be discerned even from a distance. It is better to be transparent in your interactions especially at your workplace. If you are a boss, clarity of thought and action should be discussed candidly. Saying something but meaning the opposite could make you a butt of ridicule.

I am sure we have tried all these ways of disengaging from gossip but it continues to flourish. Reason – most of the people take pleasure in listening to juicy stories and adding their own reflections. Some people use gossip to gain popularity. Some pour it in their stories. I have read more than one book in which author has filled many pages just with chatter, without focusing on the story.

I came across gossip in school, which is a common place for friends who try to snatch each other through backbiting. It did hurt but my introvert nature didn’t help at that time. Slowly I learnt to disengage from gossipmongers and allowed myself to be a better person.

What is your favorite gossip? Do you engage in gossip? What memories do you have about gossip?

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

44 thoughts on “How to Disengage from Gossip

  1. Great ideas for disengaging from gossip, Balroop. I don’t gossip, mostly because it’s negative and an energy-drain. If I’m going to talk about someone who isn’t around, the focus is going to be positive, like: “Hey, psst, did you know that Balroop Singh is a blogger and an amazing poet!” 🙂

      1. I think it is generally negative too. But when I’m stuck with gossipers, I just say nice things about the person and it sort of stifles out all the negative talk. 🙂 Everyone has something positive to comment on.

  2. “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Your husband is so wise, Balroop. Even when I was younger, I didn’t participate in gossip and I avoided those who did. I saw gossip break a person…it’s a dangerous act. Great post!

    1. I am glad to hear that Jill, I have seen a lot of gossip mongers, taking pleasure in listening and targeting the vulnerable. Thanks for sharing your experience with them. Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Great tips and reminders, Balroop! Gossip is all around us, try as we might to ignore it… I try to interject the positive aspects of the “target” or change the subject all together. ❤ Sharing!

  4. Such an insightful post on talk and more talk, Balroop. Agree with you those are the reasons why some gossip. I think people gossip because they want to be in the know and have this ‘fear of missing out’. Gossip can be based on hearsay and when you talk and talk, one thing can lead to another and facts or even assumptions can get blown out of proportion – and rumours will go round. I don’t like to gossip or participate in speculative talk about others. Rather I prefer to not engage at all if others around me are gossiping about someone else and trying to bring them down.

    1. When facts are blown out of proportion for self-gratification or out of jealousy, talk degenerates into malicious propaganda. It is better to avoid such talk and I am glad that you have learnt to distance yourself from such people. Stay blessed dear Mabel. I am happy that you are back from your hibernation. 🙂

  5. A very important post Balroop and a subject that used to be on my mind a lot. I am also so cheered by the beautiful and positive answers. We all seem to agree about negative gossip whilst a positive word is showing love and care.
    In answer to your question, no, I do not partake in gossip. It feels ugly and negative and often cruel.

    It is at times easy to see what drive gossipmongers, however, there is no excuse. Turn the tables and put yourself in the other shoes.

    Bless you


    1. Thank you Miriam, for your insights. I am glad you keep distance from gossipmongers…I agree with you, no excuses! Lets try to make this world a better place. The journey begins with a single step.

  6. Gossip can be a way to connect with people and share a more intimate relationship by bonding together against someone else. I think that’s why it is such a temptation. But like indulging in too much food or drink, it leaves one feeling sick inside. Your husband is wise in his words about judging others. And you have offered some excellent alternatives, Balroop, when faced with exposure to gossip. We’ve all been there and awareness of it when it occurs gives us power to not get sucked in.

    1. To my mind, those who try to create such a bonding may not be there when you need them, like you say, they make you feel sick. Real connections are much deeper and germinate in kind and affectionate hearts and we all know that Molly. Thank you for sharing your reflections, much appreciated. 🙂

  7. Some very wise advise, my friend. Gossip is like drinking. At first it’s mildly intoxicating, but soon it becomes maudlin, and eventually disabling. No gossip is good gossip. Nice job. 🙂

  8. Hi Balroop – an excellent post, as the others have said – we really do not need to be infected with gossip – though granted sometimes good news can be passed on, which could be helpful … but not often – better to do as your husband practices. Great to read … cheers Hilary

  9. Juicy topic, Balroop. Gossip within families can be pretty damaging. I have been victim of such embellished stories and allegations. I have been an honest and open person my whole life, to my detriment. I say that because, being surrounded by people who want to bring you down, you can’t be open without them using that information to hurt you. It’s okay though, because I’ve learned important lessons as a result. Now, I have confidence and could care less what people say about me. I like ‘me’ and I can’t be anyone other than my own self.

    I am very conscious of the damage gossip can do either in a family or within a group of friends or colleagues. People who do this should be called out on it.

    1. I agree with you Lisa, gossip within families creates grave rifts. I am sorry to read how much you have suffered due to stories that are concocted for personal gains. Manipulative persons tend to take advantage of a truthful and honest person. Many families fall apart if there is one black sheep within the family. It is better to tread carefully and be wary of such a family member.
      Thank you for sharing your personal story Lisa, it has added so much value to this post.

  10. I often wonder why do we engage into such frivolous thing? There’s so much to do and so little time. Gossip has no real benefit. well, except satisfaction, may be?

  11. gossip is another form of negativity and brings negative vibes into our lives Balroop. I’d rather be around people who praise others and lift people up. There are so many more productive things to do these days than gossip – like Facebook LOL

    happy new year to you!

  12. Balroop, an excellent and thought-provoking post. I so dislike gossip, as it tends to be negative about someone else, often not there to defend themselves and then I’ve always wondered what will they say about me when I’ve left the room. Not engaging in gossip has not always been popular and at times ostracised me from certain friend groups, but that was my choice! Nowadays, I will confront, try to face people with their actions … one bonus of maturity and gaining confidence. However, I do like your husband’s wisdom and we would all do well to pay heed to those words: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

    1. There is one positive effect of gossip though, if you happen to hear what people say about you… it acquaints you with your imperfections and give you an opportunity to reflect on them. I agree with you Annika, age mellows us down and gives us great confidence to confront or ignore…I have felt it is better to ignore and be yourself.
      Thank you for sharing your perspective, much appreciated. Stay blessed.

  13. I can’t stand Gossip Balroop.
    It does harm others. I see it everyday. And it can be tragic too!
    Right, sometimes it’s funny. Not for long really. Most of the time I smile, I avoid being around people whose favorite activity is gossiping.
    If gossip is about me, I try to ignore poeple. Confronting them might create more mess for me and I don’t feel at ease with it.
    Thank you for raising the subject. It’s important.
    Stay well.

  14. I dislike gossip immensely. My friends know that, so they stay clear of it when we’re together (and most of my friends don’t gossip, anyway). Gossip is generally mean-spirited and many times inaccurate, so can hurt people. I don’t even like reading magazines like People, etc., because that’s a gossip rag! I’m at an age that when I know someone is gossiping about me, I shrug it off; it’s insecurity of the gossiper that leads it. But when we’re younger, it’s hard to ignore.

  15. This is one thing I dislike from my heart. I prefer saying things which I don’t like about others to their face. Anyway, it really becomes difficult at times when you are with a bunch of friends/colleagues to disengage. Smiling also doesn’t help at times. The over-enthusiastic ones would poke you and ask for your opinion 😦 I have faced it!!

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