SHUT UP!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is how harmful gossip can be.  I don’t have a specific story to share, it’s just been more of a gradual observation.  It’s an issue that I REALLY struggle with and I actually have come to notice a difference in myself and my view of others’ when I decide to bite my tongue.  I think the biggest problem for people is identifying just what is gossip.  There is so much we call “venting” or “prayer requests” or “helpful information” that is, really, GOSSIP. 

Here are some tips that I use to identify gossip, maybe they’ll help you:

1) If you have to look around the room to check who is within earshot (or wait for someone to leave) before speaking . . . it’s gossip
2) If you tell one person, but have no intention of telling the person you’re discussing . . . it’s gossip [This is the habit used most often by people.  It can be little things, too.  Such as disapproving of dress style or haircuts.]
3) If you discuss an issue or person with a third party who is totally unrelated to the issue and cannot help anyone in anyway . . . it’s gossip
4) If you have to disguise people’s names or the situation so others’ won’t understand . . . it’s gossip
5) If you tag on life stories or personal information about a person when pointing them out to someone . . . it’s gossip

I’m sure there are many more, but those are my main five.  In a way, they are very similar.  Yet, each can be identified in different situations.  And here’s the kicker: many of you will probably nod your heads in agreement with me . . . AND THEN TURN AROUND AND DO THOSE THINGS.  Why is it so difficult for humans to admit the problem is THEIRS, as well?

Some days I get so frustrated with the gossip.  My biggest problem?  Now that I can identify it, how do I react when others tell me gossip?  Because I know it takes two to gossip!  And it’s soooo tempting.  I just want to jump right in with them and air all our hurts or disgust or judgments.  Honestly, when you come to me with gossip, it’s like handing an alcoholic a six pack!

I think someday I’ll write a book about gossip and title it something like this:  Everybody, just SHUT UP!!  

I know I still gossip.  I probably always will.  I’m human, after all.  But one thing I’ve learned is that, when you take away gossip, there’s not much left to talk about.  I’m honestly not exaggerating.  If you go by my above guidelines and talk about NO ONE who isn’t present, you’ll have some very short conversations.  I’ve even felt awkward at times. One of those, “we’re just sitting here staring at each other. . . what can I say??” moments. 

But I consider that a good thing.  Because I’ve learned to talk less, listen more.  And other good lessons follow:  I care about people more, I’m more open-minded, I learn more, I get to know my friends better, I understand/comprehend better, My life slows down, I relax more, I choose my words carefully, I observe more . . . the list is endless.  I don’t think society truly realizes just how much we’re hampered by gossip. 

We like to vent . . . but I think we’d get less frustrated if we silently accepted the tough challenges life throws at us and grew through them.  Because each time trouble came our way, we’d be more mature and better equipped to handle it.  What do we do instead?  Run and find a friend who’ll tell us that we’re right and we’re being unjustly put in whatever situation we’re in.

I have two questions for everyone:
How do you stop yourself from gossiping?  What do you say when others gossip in front of you?

I’ll leave you with these two great quotes that have inspired me:

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”  Proverbs 29:11

“Small minds discuss people.  Average minds discuss events.  Great minds discuss ideals.” Author unknown

Striving for greatness in a gossip-free world,
Em

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2 Responses

  1. I’m probably not the person to answer this as people generally stopped gossiping to me a long time ago. I’d say nothing or just stuff like we should pray for them or something.

    If you find yourself gossiping maybe try saying three positive things about that person straight after it. It’s about discipline and self-control.

    I pray that you conquer this in your life 🙂

  2. Wow. That is great advice. Really great. I will definitely try that! Thanks, RWG. And thanks for the prayers, as well.

    Anyone else? Keep the comments and opinions running, people! 🙂

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