Gossip attacks. They shouldn’t hurt as much since you know they aren’t true. Or at least, in some cases, it isn’t the whole story or it was taken out of context. And especially when they come from people you don’t really have a close relationship with. I mean, their opinion shouldn’t matter, right?
But the fact is, they do hurt. And each time you become the target, there’s always that overwhelming desire for revenge.
Just like in these past few days. Sigh.
I’ve come to believe that Gossips are here to stay. They won’t ever retire or shut their mouths. So I’ve got to learn how to deal with them and their product.
I remember making a promise, after a particularly draining experience, to stay away from all forms of gossip for good. And since I was honest enough to admit that I was partial to a juicy bit of information every now and then, I talked myself into treating gossip like the plague. To not do so, I reasoned, was to end up contributing–directly or indirectly–to some other person’s future pain. Having been there myself so many times before, I felt I should maybe put that golden rule into practice.
But I’m finding that Gossips will come knocking on your door. Even if you put up a “Stay Away” sign. Masked in different forms–as a prayer request, as a concern that needs to be shared, as a bit of information they think you should know or straight up did-you-knows, they’ll pound on that door until you answer. And when you do–BAM!, it won’t be a minute before you’re flat on your back, trying to rub your bruised behind.
We’ve all been on both sides of the coin. We’ve been victims of gossip and we’ve been guilty of gossip. So I’m going to jump right in and share a few things that might be good to think of when you hear that knock on the door, yet once again:
- There’s no such thing as a harmless piece of gossip. You’re more likely to find harmless sharks swarming around fish guts poured into the ocean. Gossip will always hurt someone, somewhere. You won’t always know who, but you’ll know how.
- When faced with Gossips, shut them up. At the first opportunity, ask for the reason why you have to hear what they’re saying. And no matter how convincing their explanations are, say thanks-but-no-thanks. You know it’s a vicious cycle. Staying makes you a part of it.
- Remember—if a Gossip talks to you, he/she will also talk about you. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re special. You’re a big red target just like everyone else.
- Gossips, when confronted with their stories, will usually flub their lines and change their stories. Or point to someone else. They’re like champion backstroke swimmers. Offer them a medal then walk away.
- Choosing to stay silent when given the opportunity to clear someone’s name or clarify a situation makes you guilty of complicity. Don’t be a coward. Choose to pay it forward.
- Beware of those who praise or agree with you all the time. You’re not perfect, and they know it. They may not tell you to your face, but they’ll tell others.
- Most people don’t have the courage of their convictions. You all agree something needs to be done about something? Good. But wait and see what happens when a person in authority or directly affected by the issue walks in the door. Watch everyone else lose their powers of speech. If you keep talking, know you’ll be on your own. Worse, be ready to serve as the scapegoat. Yes, even if all your concerns are valid. Just because a person has the right idea doesn’t mean he/she has the backbone to back it up.
- Sadly, there are instances when it’s useless trying to clear your name. Each time you try, people will simply assume you’re being defensive. After all, the truth is never as interesting as the lie. Lies are more flavorful, and most people enjoy sitting and savoring every morsel fed to them.
- A credible name backed by consistent actions will win out in the end. So give people something to talk about. When they pause long enough to listen to what they’re saying, they’ll realize your actions contradict their statements. And they can’t argue with that.
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” – James 3: 7-8
***Gossip & gossip: I used upper case when referring to the person and lower case when referring to the act.