Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 16, 2004
Who brings a tale takes two away
Once I was visiting a friend recovering from a surgery. There were other friends visiting him. One of them shared an interesting story about his sister who had a baby.
While leaving the hospital, the mother of one of his officemates - who happened to be from his hometown - saw him and asked, "Whom were you visiting?" He was in a rush. Not wanting to be impolite he tried to talk to her but kept their conversation to a minimum. He did not give much detail.
He needed to rush home to prepare a room for his sister and the baby, who would be staying with him temporarily. He took a week off during that time to help his sister, who is a single parent.
The Monday he returned to the office, he found his officemates to be somewhat cold, especially the women. He did not know what he had done to deserve such cold shoulder treatment. Worried about the situation, he asked one of the guys. He was told of a story circulating in the office that he had gotten his sister pregnant and that the baby was born. That's why he took a week off.
Gossip. The fact that some people would believe such accusations is beyond me.
Why do people gossip?
It is probably the major form of communication in any business, social or family setting - or even church. Gossip can be pretty destructive and counterproductive especially when it is totally baseless and purely hatched from malicious intent to destroy someone.
For the person who is carrying the information, he or she may feel as though it is a civic duty to share his or her knowledge with anyone who will listen.
It also seems to be necessary to embellish it a little, in the event that the topic of gossip isn't juicy enough. Sometimes it all starts with the premise, "This is our little secret and don't tell anyone." But what often happens is that the person who has been told will have his or her own person to share "this little secret." The list of "secret recipients" tends to grow until it remains secret only to the person/s being talked about.
How should we respond when we become the subject of gossip?
First, don't confront the person who spread the gossip about you in a public place or with an angry tone in your voice. Causing a scene or going on the offensive will only make them feel they are justified in spreading venom.
It is best to avoid this person all together and try to say nothing to them. But if you do have to say something, wait until you are calm and the initial shock has passed.
Freaking out and running around trying to set the record straight is a big no-no. Play it cool. When it gets back to you laugh lightly and say something like, "Is that what's going around about me? I wonder why somebody would go to so much trouble to spread a lie?"
This does two things: It shows others that you have nothing to hide because you are not acting defensively and puts the burden of reliability back on the gossip spreader by making others wonder if there is a hidden agenda.
Calm is key. Always be calm, even baffled, when the rumour is mentioned. If you freak out in protest it looks like you have something to hide. If you don't have anything to hide, playing it cool will come naturally, because the truth is what is natural and real.
Don't retaliate with your own gossip. You are better than that.
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