When I hear the word “gossip” I think of Mean Girls. Backstabbing, betrayal and scandal. We have all been the subject of gossip, and I’ve often found myself wondering, “why do people talk behind my back?” Here’s why, and here’s what to do about it.
Gossip Is Not a Bad Thing
We are naturally inclined to gossip, it is ingrained in us. We have been doing it for thousands of years. Egyptian hieroglyphics, the oldest written language in the world is uncannily similar to the tabloids that you would see standing in line at a grocery store.
Gossip is valuable. It is the medium through which we convey the popular moral and ethics of our time. Through conversing about others, we come to understand ourselves. Gossip itself isn’t the problem.
For more on this argument, check out this fascinating talk about it.
Gossip can become an issue when it gets overly negative however. Among groups of friends it can cause conflict and feelings of betrayal.
From my own personal experience I have found that negatively gossiping about someone doesn’t make me feel any better as a person, and it isn’t the most resourceful way to spend my time.
It Isn’t About You
Realize that when someone talks behind your back it is a reflection of who they are rather than who you are. Everyone is talked about, no matter what is going on in their life good or bad. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way most people are.
Once I understood this, I changed my expectations of people. I expected people to talk behind my back. Once you change your expectations of others and they do end up gossiping about you behind your back you won’t react with feelings of betrayal. It won’t affect you negatively anymore.
Detach yourself from the opinions people have of you. The less they control your behaviour the more freedom you will have to follow your own path in life and discover what is actually important to you.
“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” – Les Brown
Also, if you find you are often the subject of gossip, chances are you have a lot going on in your life. You must be on a lot of people’s minds. That’s a good thing.
You must learn to tread gossip carefully. Talking badly about someone will not benefit you. Dwelling on other’s people miseries and misfortune will only pollute your mind by exposing it to negativity.
There is no way to actually avoid gossiping without causing an awkward social situation, but there are methods to not let it get the best of you.
When your friend starts talking about the latest scoop on Helga and how she’s sabotaging her own marriage, rather than nodding in agreement or adding fuel to the fire, demonstrate compassion. Say something like, “I wonder what’s going on with Helga, maybe she’s hit a rough patch in her life.”
Or if someone does something that is not seen as acceptable and everyone wants to talk about it, don’t join in on the montage of name calling and shaming that inevitably occurs afterwards. Just state that it is unfortunate, and change the subject.
One of the best tricks that I always tend to use it just to start asking questions about your friend who you are conversing with. People absolutely adore talking about themselves, so encourage them to. It gives people a feeling of importance and worth when there is someone who is willing to listen attentively about their life.
Set an example for your friends, always make an effort to steer a conversation back to a positive topic.
There are significant benefits that will result from this, such as:
- You will be happier because you will not be filling your conscious thoughts with negative subject matter
- Your friends will also be happier after spending time with you because your interactions centred around positivity. They will subconsciously want to hang out with you more often.
- If you use my last suggestion about getting your friends to talk about themselves, you will have created a meaningful connection with them. There is nothing that binds a friendship together more than sharing each other’s deepest thoughts about life.
Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself gossiping, it happens to the best of us. Just be more aware, and try to change the way a conversation plays out next time.
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