“We are not gossiping, we are just networking!” – If you are discussing the negative information about others in their absence, you are already gossiping.
Gossip brings serious irreversible damages to relationships! We all might have been involved in ‘gossip’, in one way or the other, and we all have once been a victim of it. In this post, I would like to share with you what I learned about how gossip adversely affects personal relationships and how to put a full stop when someone starts gossip!
I have observed families being broken, relationships getting affected, and communities being destroyed, all because of ‘few words’, which were conveyed by someone, which were not completely true.
Before proceeding, let me give you the proper definition of gossip, so that you can check for yourself whether you are involved in any type of gossip or had been a victim of it.
Gossip is the casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true. [Oxford Dictionary]
Here is a simple definition, (restructured into simple words)
If you have ever involved in a conversation, where the topic is about some information about another person, in his/her absence, which are not confirmed as truth, then you have already taken part in gossiping.
I will give you a scenario:
There were three people, lets say, Person A, Person B and Person C. A and B are good friends. B and C were good friends, but now they were not in good terms. A doesn’t know C personally.
A and B started a conversation in the absence of C. A and B started talking, and after some time they started to speak about C. Even though, they started discussing the positive things of Person C, B unintentionally shared some of the ‘negative things’ of C, to his friend A. Person A believed this report. Person A was curious to know more and the conversation became intense and both of them started to discuss more about C. Most of the things B shared about C were not fully true, as B had a grudge towards C.
Suddenly Person C comes and joins A and B. A and B started to act as if they were discussing something else.
Now just imagine, how would the conversation proceed? A had already got a negative impression about C, from his friend B. Even if C tries to build a good relationship with A, as long as A has the ‘wrong information about C’ in his mind, it would be very difficult for the relationship to be genuine and strong. Isn’t it?
This is how relationships are adversely affected.
So, what is gossip? With regard to personal relationships, it is a conversation about any information, about a third person, which is mostly not confirmed to be true.
Gossip is like a ‘forest fire’
Once affected, it is impossible to revert the damage caused by it.
There is a story that is often told about the dangers of gossip. One version tells that a woman spreads untruths about a neighbor in her village. When she wants to make amends, she approaches an elder in the community, tells him how sorry she is, and asks what she can do to apologize. He brings her to the top of a hill on a windy day with a pillowcase full of feathers. He instructs her to open the pillowcase, and the feathers fly everywhere. He then asks her to collect the far-flung feathers. She protests, saying that it is impossible to track down each feather. He responds that so too is it impossible to undo the damage that gossip causes, for each piece of gossip told catches the wind and travels far, just like the feathers.
Let us see what the Bible tells about the power of tongue
the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3: 5-8 [NIV]
- Tongue is a small part of the body but it can greatly boast
- Tongue is a fire, and it can cause great damage like a forest fire
- It is very difficult to tame the tongue
- It is full of deadly poison
Therefore, we need to be careful about using our ‘tongue’. If you can control your tongue, you can control your whole life.
Now is YOUR turn – You can either quench the fire!! or pour fuel into it and spread the fire!!
7 simple ways to put a FULL STOP to gossip.
Nobody ever starts the gossip intentionally. It mostly happens in the daily conversations even without we being aware of it. Here, are some simple things to consider, to escape from the deadly poison of gossip. (Mostly to be applied in personal relationships)
1. Never ‘believe’ the facts about a third person without proper evidence
Even, if the facts that were given to you, is by a trustworthy person, make it a habit not to quickly believe it, without considering the evidences/facts. If you clearly set this principle in your mind, then you can be sure that you will not be easily pulled into gossiping.
2. Never believe ‘half-truths’
Some facts may seem to be true, but are half-truths. Half-truths are whole lies!
Example: Jack and Bobby are brothers. Jack tells his mother, “Bobby hit me”. Mother immediately punishes Bobby. Bobby starts to cry. The truth was that Jack hit Bobby first, and they both fought among each other. But, in order to escape the punishment of his mother, Jack ran towards his mother and complained to her about Bobby, before Bobby could ever tell her.
Here, what Jack told is ‘truth’, but was a ‘half-truth’. The mother took the wrong action, because she didn’t take time to inquire from Bobby on what happened.
Therefore, never take action on hearing half-truths. Listen to all the parties involved, before jumping to a conclusion.
3. Learn to stop a conversation when it turns into gossip
Listening eagerly to a gossip is also equivalent to gossiping. Therefore, if you observe that, the conversation you are involved with, is shifting to ‘gossip’, gently and politely decline or change the topic. This is how you put a full stop to gossip.
Gossip kills three people: the one who speaks it, the one who listens, and the one about whom it is spoken – unknown
4. If a person gossips about another person to you, remember he/she will gossip about you TOO
This is a simple check to test whether a person is trustworthy. The one who gossips to you cannot be trusted. Therefore refuse to share your secrets or confidential matters with such a person.
5. Never ever spread a negative information about another person
Even if you know that it is the truth, you need not share it with others. It will spoil his/her reputation. Spreading negative information about others will make yourself a less trustworthy person. (Refer the previous point). Speaking evil about others is a negative personality trait.
6. Try to find the positive in others
The next importing thing is to train yourself to find the good in others. Even though someone told wrong about that person, still he has some good in him. Find those and appreciate it. Therefore, whenever someone gossips to you about that person, you can change the conversation by discussing the good about him. Isn’t a good idea?
7. Always remember this warning – You are responsible for your words
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matt 12:36, 37
Therefore, if you have already fallen into this great sin of gossip, it is high time to feel sorry about it, and request God to forgive. God is merciful and will forgive your mistakes. Also, only God can heal the damages caused by gossip.
Here is a self check list
- Am I quick to believe the negative reports of someone I do not know?
- Did I ever spread a wrong information?
- Will I be curious to know the personal private facts of others?
- Will I encourage someone who gossips to me?
- Am I quick to judge others based on the information I received?
- Do I seek information from all parties before believing the report?
These are some of the questions you can ask yourselves. If you have ever been involved in gossip, you will never know how much damage it may cause to the various relationships you are involved with.
Here is a simple prayer
Father, knowingly or unknowingly I have believed the wrong reports about others. I am sorry for it. I chose not to believe it. Help me not to be interested in the negative things of others. Help me to put a stop to gossip next time someone starts it. Give me the boldness to discourage such conversations. Help me to build relationships and not to destroy it. Help me to recognize the traps set by people to pull me into unwanted conversations. Please help me to bring glory to you, by properly taming my ears and tongue. Help me to bring glory to you. Thank you Jesus for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
You may have questions like
- Is it possible to give a warning about someone without involving in gossip?
- How do I tell someone to be careful about another person without revealing the negatives?
Kindly share your views/questions below. I have some more points to discuss, but will wait for your questions. I love to hear from you. Will you comment below? Also, don’t feel reluctant to share this with your friends. May be you can use this article to help people who are trying to gossip about you 😛