“I really shouldn’t say anything…” she started, taking a step closer to me. “You didn’t hear it from me but…” A coworker continued before she blurted out something she had heard earlier in the day. The words raced out of her mouth before she ever gave thought to if she should even share.
I hadn’t asked her to share. I hadn’t pried. Yet still she rushed into my office, words spilling off of her tongue. She claimed she was only looking out for me. She was certain I’d want to know. But when she left minutes later, I realized I could sum up everything she just blurted out in one simple word – gossip.
Pondering what she had shared, I’ve realized several truths about gossip:
- Gossip says more about the person who is speaking than it says about the subject of the chatter.
- Gossip can destroy trust in an instant. If someone shares what should have been held in confidence, how can you assume they would keep your information private?
- Gossip damages personal integrity. It demonstrates a lack of judgment and a lack of empathy for others.
- Gossip spreads half-truths, lies, and things that should have been left confidential equally only hurting others.
- Gossip perpetuates a lack of respect and increases negativity.
If it’s so bad, how can you stop gossiping?
- Be aware of the damage it causes. Ask yourself how you’d feel if it were about you or how the person would feel if they heard what’s being said.
- Make a conscious choice not to gossip. It starts with a choice. Having a hard time stopping? Consider what scripture says about gossip: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:2
- Check your motivation. Before sharing stop and ask why you are sharing? Is what you’re sharing hurtful or private? Ask what your motive is for sharing?
- Recognize gossip. Give consideration to how you gossip. It isn’t always obvious and can be disguised as a prayer request or wrapped in seemingly good intent when the motivation really isn’t sincere.
- Redirect the conversation. Navigate discussions to safe topics that respect others rather than tear them down.
- Pray about it. Pray for wisdom to recognize where you gossip and strength for the ability to change your patterns.
The next time you catch the words “did you hear…” on your tongue, consider the damage gossip can do and then choose what to share carefully.
How do respond to gossip or avoid it? Have you seen it disguised as caring?
I’d love to hear from you!
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