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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