You can tell when you’ve engaged in a gossip. The aftertaste is not pleasant. You’re left with a gross feeling, your conscience nagging at you for oversharing. We’ve all been in that space when we realize that we’ve stayed in a conversation for too long or shared information that wasn’t ours to share.
Talking about other people isn’t wrong in itself. It’s the underlying intention of the conversation and how we talk about others. Gossip is destructive. Even though it seems harmless at the moment, it ruins the ability for true connection.
Ditching gossip isn’t always easy though. We’ve gathered some thoughts together on how we can work towards gossiping less.
Don’t talk about other people’s business.
That’s easier said than done. Humans are social beings. We want to talk with people, about people. When you’re in the middle of a conversation and it leads into someone else’s story, tread carefully. If it’s not your business, shut it down before it gets out of hand.
Call it out.
Whether you do it gently or firmly, make it clear that you won’t tolerate gossip. Once people realize that gossiping doesn’t fly with you, they’ll stop gossiping to you. They might gossip about you . . . but that’s their problem. We can’t control what people think about us or what they say about us. We can only do our best to control our response to others. How people perceive you is not your problem.
Let it stop with you.
If someone confides in you, don’t pass the information around. If it’s not your story, don’t tell it. Be a safe space, no matter how juicy the gossip could be.
Vent only in a trusted space.
If you need to vent, do it in a safe space with your person who won’t feed gossip and will call you out on your own sh*t. Before you vent, do an ego check. Why is this situation actually bothering you? Is dwelling on it worth the stress? Are you attached to having a touch of drama in your life? Sometimes the reason someone is getting under your skin is because they remind you of characteristics that you don’t like about yourself. Other times, people are intolerable and that’s when boundaries are beautiful. There’s a difference between needing to process and gossiping.
Speak about others with compassion.
If you find yourself dipping into a gossipy conversation, put yourself in the person of interest’s spot. Would you say this if they were right beside you? How are they feeling? Would they be hurt if they heard you retelling their story or would they laugh and join in with their perspective? Make compassion your centre and build from there. When compassion becomes a habit, you’ll notice a lot of toxicity falls away.
We crave connection. We want to be seen and accepted, and we’ll often say things we regret to be part of a group. If your group revolves around harmful gossip, honey, it’s not worth it. When it comes to gossip, you have a few options: join in, remain silent, nudge the conversation in another direction, or walk the other way. Sometimes it’s healthier to walk the other way.
Jade is a writer, potter, and gardener living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. They love growing food, creating functional stoneware, and hermiting with a book as much as possible.