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Posts tagged ‘gossip’

A Practical Plan for Not Gossiping.

I choose to use my tongue for good. I will use it only to edify and uplift and exhort and inspire. (At least – that’s my hope.)

It is not my place to judge. Nor is it my place to share confidences.

I have always found this value very hard to live. This is how I WANT to live. But when someone says something to me I find it hard to change the subject, hard not to respond to them. I don’t want to be rude.

I suppose that I have always felt (subconsciously) that directly confronting them in their gossip is confrontational – and very bad manners.

Who gossips with you will gossip of you

Who gossips with you will gossip of you

So someone might catch me off-guard and ask me a very direct question about someone else. Before I know it, I’ve answered them. I’m a whole lot better than I was. I have been working on it and I’m learning to deflect and to change the subject subtly.

Or someone might assume I share their view of the world and launch into a vitriolic attack on a group or person they assume we hold in mutual low regard. And then the subject changes before I have a chance to defend that person or group, and I’m left feeling like I’ve bathed in bacon fat. Briefly delicious but totally gross the moment you actually think about it … and very, very hard to clean.

So I’ve been giving a LOT of thought to how I would like to behave in future. I’m basing a whole lot of this on how I hope people would behave if someone tried to engage them in talk about me. (I imagine I’m way too boring for this to be a real concern, but I’m trying to empathise here …)

When someone comes to me in future to gossip, here’s my script:

“If someone asked me that about you, I don’t think you’d like me to answer. I’d like you to know with great certainty that your confidence is safe with me, and if I answer that question about so-and-so, you will never be able to trust me again. Your friendship is very important to me, and I don’t want to risk it on random words.

Besides, I can’t speak for them. I don’t know the circumstances of their life, or the moments, events, and choices that brought them to where they are now. I don’t know if, in their place, I’d have done better. I’ve done some pretty crazy stuff in my life, so I’m fairly sure that – given their challenges – I’d have made a huge mess of things.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a good friend like you to keep them on track when they start going off course. Thank you for understanding.”

When it comes to a particular group being judged, I’ll say something like,

“I don’t know what it’s like to be [shortsighted label]. But I do know what it’s like to be [insert label that applies to me]. I like me, but I’ve taken flack for what I am in the past. It wasn’t fun. I don’t want to be someone who makes someone else feel like that.

It’s not my place to comment on their life choices at all. They are no better or worse than I am. Even life choices that are specifically spelled out as sinful in the Bible are no worse than the specifically sinful choices I have made.

So I don’t want to talk about their situation. I don’t have enough information and I don’t think we can easily do this and still be kind.”

If I need advice on a situation, I will speak broadly, and only to someone I trust implicitly, who has earned the right to hear that story. There are many things that can be discussed besides people. Millions. An infinite amount.

I realise that this view might not be popular. I know some people will think I’m boring. Others may even feel judged because I’m not willing to engage with them in the delicious sin of gossip. So be it. I don’t want to lose friends. But I would rather lose a friend because I DIDN’T gossip and I WASN’T judgemental, than because I gossiped about or judged them.

I would hate that.

(And it’s not as if I haven’t done and said enough things in my life to earn some gossip and judgement. But I hope that people will be compassionate and sympathetic to me. They have a right to hope that about me, too.)

Silence is GODLY

Thomas à Kempis knew human nature when he said, “It is easier to be silent altogether than to speak with moderation.”

Over and over, I am convicted by the need to keep silent; the regret at having said too much. Today’s article on Today’s Christian Woman really spoke to my heart on that subject.

Do you ever say more than you should? What do you do when you realise it? How do you prevent it from happening?

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