Today I want to gossip! Oh, sorry, that’s wrong…I want to talk about gossip. (Isn’t that the same thing???) According to Wikipedia, “Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others…the term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has a personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation.” I totally agree, thank you Wikipedia!
This is what I have to say about this topic: Gossip is an energy vampire and sucks the life out of people–the gossiper, the listeners, and those being gossiped about. Stopping the gossip vampire in its tracks can be challenging, but it is one of the easier self-empowering action items you can do! I’ll share with you how, a little bit later in this conversation.
Are you really wondering what gossip has to do with self-empowerment? It is HUGELY related! Come on, let’s play a little game!
You be you. Got it? Ok! Now, I’ll be me, and Fictitious Fanny is going to be, well Fictitious Fanny. You are at home, minding your business, pampering yourself with a paraffin wax foot treatment, when I ring you up.
Me: “OMG, have I got some gossip for you!”
You: “Dish it!”
Me: “I just ran into Make Believe Maria, she told me that Phony Phil told her about Fictitious Fanny!”
You: “What? What about Fanny?”
Me: “Well you know how she’s always ‘working out with the trainer’? Let me tell you…he has her working up a sweat and it isn’t in the gym! They were caught coming out of a room at the no-tell hotel. Busted!”
Stop action!! Cut!! Fanny is a mutual friend of ours! How do you respond? How do you really feel about what you’ve just heard? What will you do with this information?
There are two ways to respond to gossip–either engage in it or stop it. Believe it or not, we’re all capable of either response. And even I slip, but I don’t tumble completely down that mountain anymore.
The act of engaging in gossip–even if you “just listen” and don’t share–is soul darkening. The experts say there are social and psychological reasons for engaging in gossip to develop our feelings of connection and self-worth. Pffttt! I don’t doubt the experts, I’m just saying it’s the easy way of fitting in, but at a huge personal cost.
Return to our little gossip session above–are you glad that Fanny got busted? Isn’t it time someone took her down? You can parade around, all high and mighty, part of the cool girl pack because you knew about it before most everyone else and got right on it, making sure everyone else knew! Oh and when her husband moves out, taking the kids, how are you going to feel standing there watching the moving truck pull away? Will you be dusting your hands together saying, “Well, that’s that. Have you heard anything about Paulette?” and be off and running with the next bit of gossip? If so, bye bye…you’re a gossip vampire and enjoy having the dark place in your soul.
However, if the gossip scenario causes you to stop and wonder what is really going on with Fanny, if she need a friend to talk to, or perhaps you’re wondering why people constantly interrupt your life with such nonsense, then I think you can fight the legion of gossip vampires! It’s a simple three-step process.
First, recognize how gossip drains you. Which of the following typical reactions/signs do you experience?
- You feel dirty after you hear something about someone else
- You wonder what b/s people are spreading about you
- You lose respect for the gossiper
- If you gossip, you might momentarily feel like an insider, but gossiping diminishes your values
- After hearing gossip you feel burdened with the information–you either need to do something about what you’ve heard, or pass it along to the next person and get it off your back
- You get sucked into the what if’s and speculations. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?
- You become judgmental based on the gossip
- Fear rises in your throat that your dirty little secrets are the next gossip fodder
- You work hard to avoid interacting with certain people because they gossip
- After hearing/repeating gossip, you feel the emotional/physical drain in your body!
Step two is to make a commitment to yourself that you are not going to engage in gossip! Whaaaaaat? You heard me. Don’t play. But, all the other kids… Nope, don’t go there. Stand alone, stand tall, see life through your own eyes, not through someone else’s vision of how it is. Yes, it goes against everything we want–we want to feel part of the group, we want to feel important, we want to be on the inside track. We all do. However, there is another, better, self-empowering way! You’re a big boy or girl now, you can stand on your own, in your own light, and let that light become a beacon for others shining a similar light. Commit to being a person of strong values and create boundaries (step three) around yourself in regard to gossip.
Step three is the empowering action step: create those boundaries! This is one of the easiest “tough conversations” you will have on your road to self-empowerment.
Here are the steps:
- Write your commitment to becoming a gossip-free zone and keep it where you see it throughout the day.
- When engaged in a conversation that turns gossipy, state, “Oh, I’m sure you would love to share that/talk about that, but I am not going to participate. I took a vow to be gossip free!” (You can call it a challenge, set a time limit, or whatever helps make this conversation easier for you!) If you’re in a group setting, you can dismiss yourself by adding, “Continue without me, I’m going to check on something.”
- Be aware! You’re going to slip, you’re going to gossip, but having awareness helps bring you back to your commitment.
Word of warning to you: When you initially stop gossiping, guess what? You will become the victim of gossip! People will wonder “what makes him/her so self-righteous all of a sudden?” Tells you a little about the company you’re currently keeping!
Stick with it, eventually people get it and will refrain from gossiping around you/to you because they know where you stand. You will become a more interesting person, you may change your circle of friends to include more interesting people, and believe it or not, people will respect and trust you! They will come to know you as someone who can be trusted to keep confidences, someone who seeks truth, someone who looks for conversations of substance, and someone they can look to for help slaying the Gossip Vampires!
Little people talk about other people; great people talk about ideas…you’re a GREAT person!
That’s all I’ve got for today!