We all know how hurtful gossip can be. We know that it can ruin reputations, hurt people and that it is a destructive force. Yet many of us continue to engage in this behavior. I have a confession to make. I like to listen to gossip. I do not tend to repeat gossip but I listen. My act of listening makes me an active participant in the act of gossiping.
Over the years, I have learned a great deal about what can happen to relationships when gossip happens. I once had a supervisor who would gossip to me about the people I worked with and she supervised. At first it was a lot of fun to spend time with her. She treated me like I was her confidante at the office. She asked me to report back on things that were going on in the office. She would tell me how competent I was in comparison to other staff. I loved the attention.
The longer I worked with her, the more negative things became. I started to notice that not only was I listening to her gossip; I was an active participant. I found myself saying horrible things about my co-workers. As things started to degenerate, I realized that I had to extricate myself. I came to realize that as much as she talked about other people to me, she would talk about me as well. Eventually, I knew I had to stay away from her because I would get sucked in every time. She was funny and engaging and I would participate in spite of my best intentions.
Over the years, I have learned to not spread gossip. However, I still listened to it. I am now in another situation where this has been my only role. I seem to have difficulty in not listening to others gossip to me. I am working really hard to integrate this lesson into my life. It is going to be hard. I am going to work really hard to figure out what is gossip and what is necessary information. I think it is going to be a work in progress for sure.
What about you? What have been your experiences with gossip? Have you been a victim? How do you handle it in your life?