Gossip

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?

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Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 7:46 pm  Comments (4)  
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  1. I used to be bad about gossip, triangulation, and generally talking and listening about third parties. Two things helped break me of that. One was something that happened in a forum I participated in. An Orthodox Jewish woman wrote of the concept of lashon hara, literally, “evil tongue.” This made me more conscious of my own participation in such a thing. The other was counsellor training, which made me get serious about confidentiality, avoiding triangulation, and staying away from talking about third parties (except maybe to say something good). I’m no saint, but I’m a lot more conscious about my own tendencies and work to do better. Definitely a work in progress.

    • What is triangulation?

      • Triangulation is when you have a problem with someone but instead of dealing with them directly you talk to a third party. The third party isn’t a go-between, just someone to whom to complain about the person you have a problem with instead of dealing directly with them.

  2. Your experience was so similar to one I had in my recent past. Almost down to a T actually. The only thing I could add is that I spent more time with her than all of her friends, except her family. And in that, I learned her idiosyncrasies. They weren’t ones that others saw, nor believed could even exist.

    Confused was how I felt through it. Pissed off was how I felt after. And used. The being used part hurt the most.

    I learned a LOT about myself through that journey with her because my personal makeup was not what I had allowed myself to become.

    To thine own self be true. I’ve gone back to living that everyday now.

    Great post!


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