by Patricia Omoqui
The first step to kicking the gossip habit is to observe how often you listen to gossip
It can ruin reputations, destroy friendships, damage marriages and wound those we say that we love. If you’ve been the brunt of gossip, you know how awful it feels to find out that others have been talking about you. We share personal information with a friend in confidence only to hear later that they felt free to share this information far and wide. As the information was whispered from person to person it morphed into something that doesn’t even remotely resemble the truth we initially shared. Yet, most who heard the news took it as truth rather than questioning what they were being told.
A sinking feeling in the stomach, a knife in the back, an ache in the heart—these are among the results of learning you’ve been gossiped about. Our words are powerful. They can heal, soothe and uplift. They can also sting, wound or destroy. How do you choose to use your words?
For many of us gossip is a habit.
The first step to kicking the gossip habit is to observe how often you listen to gossip or share it with others. Recognize what triggers you to share gossip. Understanding yourself better—seeing the “when, where, why, what and how” of your gossip style– will help you to develop strategies to lessen and ultimately eliminate the gossip routine.
If you are tired of the amebo life and ready to create new habits with your words, here are some strategies to change your behavior.
- Before you speak, ask yourself key questions. Would I share this information if the person involved were present? Would I choose to express it in the same way I’m using to tell others (with the same tone of voice, dramatic flair and facial expressions)? Does the subject of this information know I’m sharing this? Give thought to the impact of your words BEFORE you speak.
- Don’t take gossip as truth. How often do we assume that gossip we hear is fact rather than opinion? We often assume the gossip is correct without even questioning it. Then, we impart it ourselves in a matter of fact way. Listen to what you are told with a grain of salt (or two).
- Let it stop with you. When people share gossip with you, choose not to pass it on. You can stop the gossip chain by simply refusing to repeat it. Let the matter rest; keep quiet.
- Change the subject. When the gossip fire is really burning, find a creative way to move the conversation in a new direction. Share something positive you know about the person. Pay someone in the group a compliment. Do anything you can to shift the energy of the conversation. Experiment. You’ll soon see that you can swiftly direct chatter into new, more wholesome territory.
- Politely remove yourself from conversations. “Excuse me, please. I really need to get back to work.” Or, “I’m late for an appointment—I need to go now.” You get the idea. Ask God for help in conversation as the negative gossip energy builds. Empower yourself to leave politely if necessary.
- “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Jesus gave us a profoundly simple principle to live by. Remember it applies not only to your physical actions but to your thoughts and words as well.
Step up. Be a leader. Be extra-ordinary by using your mind and mouth to create the type of World you want to live in. Change begins with you.
Food For Thought
“Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.”
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.