Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What are your thoughts on gossip?

I have a friend who just can't wait to share the next juicy bit of scandal about people we know. Sometimes, I have to admit, it's wildly interesting and amazing! Then, I remember how it feels to be the subject of such conversations. Ouch!

Gossip is killing

A few weeks back, my pastor delivered a word about gossip. She pointed out that according to several biblical references, gossip (or backbiting) is as offensive as murder! And, is it not a form of murder? After all, spreading dirt or scandal about another is in essence killing the subject's reputation.

Whether one is whispering a little tidbit about the neighbor or engaging in a salacious smear campaign, talking about another behind their back is demeaning and does not allow the opportunity for defense. We certainly wouldn't do that in a court of law; that is, prosecute without representation. But, we do it everyday to those who we work with and who live in our communities.

Why do we engage in this kind of talk? There must be some powerful stuff there, as we spend all sorts of money on gossip magazines and watch hours of it on television. What is it that keeps us coming back for more?

Knowledge is Power

I've observed that it is powerful stuff to be the first to know something about another. Nobody likes being in the dark. If you don't know, and I do, then I have one up on you. This goes across the board from girlfriends to the evening news.

There are many studies about why people engage in gossip and what the negative consequences are. As a society, we really do know that it is destructive. But, in reality, it is a way of life for many. What should you do when the notorious gossiper says, "I heard it by the grapevine...?"

Stop the smack talk

Try one of these tactics, they are a sure fire way to stop the scandalmonger in their tracks:
  • Find positive ways of sharing with others things that don't require talking negatively about the victim.
  • Ask for verification when you are told something about another person. Trusting that what is said is true without challenging it's authenticity, makes you a partner in perpetuating gossip.
  • If you hear damaging or harmful talk, refuse to listen and politely attempt to stop the speaker.
  • Ask the gossiper if they have anything positive to say about the person they are criticizing.
When we honor others with our words, we live with dignity and without repute. Seriously, classy women (and men!) don't gossip!

Do you have a policy in place addressing talking about others? Backbiting is destructive in the work place. Think about it...and then let your people know what your standards and expectations are.

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