Gossip: “I can’t stand malicious gossip, but sometimes I end up participating in it!”

 "Peace - Buddha" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Peace – Buddha” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It’s normal to be intrigued by the enthralling and sometimes unfortunate situations that people we know might find themselves in. However, when spreading news turns into an opportunity to delight in someone else’s misfortune, to malign someone, or to get attention, people involved in listening and spreading the gossip tend to feel dirty afterwards.

When you sense that news is turning into Schadenfreude—feeling happy about someone else’s misfortune—then it is time to take action and change the direction of the conversation or terminate your involvement completely.

When faced with gossipmongering, you can:

1. Change the subject: Steer the conversation in the direction of the gossiper. “How’s your work going?” “How’s your husband doing?”

2. Use humor: Humor is a great way to deflect prying questions. Keep a positive, light-hearted attitude and suggest that nobody is perfect.

3. Empathize with the victim: “Let’s take a look at it from his side.” People who gossip are often used to getting others’ attention and agreement. They might be taken aback, and stop, if you defend the person being slandered.

4. Insinuate a light reprimand: “Let’s talk about something more positive and decide what we’re going to do this afternoon.” Such a statement implies disapproval, but is softened with an alternative topic of discussion.

5. Be direct: “I feel uncomfortable enjoying someone else’s adversity. Let’s not gossip about people unless we’re trying to help them.” This is direct and can be said to people who can handle honest criticism, or when gossip is particularly malicious.

6. Avoid the gossiper: As a last resort, if you can’t stop immature or malicious gossip, avoid the gossiper all together.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Watch “Distinguishing Harmless from Malicious Gossip.”

Watch “How To Respond To Malicious Gossip.”

Read “Gossip vs. Honesty: ‘It is better to be honest and realistic than to pretend everyone is such an angel when they are not?’”

Read “Gossip: ‘What else did you hear?’”

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2 thoughts on “Gossip: “I can’t stand malicious gossip, but sometimes I end up participating in it!”

    1. Alison Post author

      When she is not gossiping, you could talk to her and say that you have decided to try not to gossip too much and that you could enlist her help by not tempting you. This way you won’t feel as though you are criticizing her. I also have a a 3 minute video youtube that shows five or so different ways to respond to gossip. Check it out and let me know what works best for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_CpfkSVSlQ
      And it might also be good to watch my other youtube on gossip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fscH_X4Co

      Good luck, and good for you for trying to gossip less!

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