5 Ways to Stop Gossip

by Bryant Evans on October 27, 2009

Gossip hurts and is destructive to any group or organization where it is found. [cref Gossip We talked about gossip before] and made several points about the harm that comes from either intentional or unintentional gossip. Instead of talking about people we should be talking to people and encouraging them. As promised we today offer 5 Ways to Stop Gossip. I hope this helps.

Gossip Stops When You Use Your Brain First and Mouth Second

Because gossip often arises from idle chit-chat or small talk, we may find ourselves involved before we realize what happened. Most people would be horrified at the idea of being called a gossip and terrified to be caught talking behind someone’s back. We usually don’t mean to talk about others but we do because we aren’t thinking! The first step in ridding your life of a bad habit is to be aware of it. Today, consciously and carefully listen to your own words. Stop talking before you speak ill of someone else. You can develop a zero tolerance policy for yourself.

If you lead in business or industry considering including a discussion of gossip in your next in-service meeting and think about adding gossip to your list of workplace offenses that could bring disciplinary action. By getting your workers to think about damaging talk and be aware of gossip, you can prevent serious issues later.

Don’t Participate in Gossip

“Just say no!” was the motto of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s attempt to slow drug use among young people. The same idea holds for gossip: Just don’t do it!

Gossip always requires at least two people. One does the talking and the other listens. If you refuse to be a part of either side of the gossip equation then it stops. I remember a fine lady who would quietly excuse herself from the conversation when the chatter turned to gossip. She never made a big show of leaving but simply would not stay.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a growing group who refused to participate? Before long the gossipers would find they were talking to themselves!

Short Circuit the Gossip Machine

Now here’s an idea that is sure to work. Go to the source. Speak directly with the subject or target of the gossip. When someone begins talking about somebody else, offer to contact that person, together with the gossiper, and see if you can be of assistance. I would guess that at least 90% of the people gossiping will be terrified at the idea.

People who talk about others depend on a certain level of anonymity. These are the people who send unsigned notes and letters complaining about a co-worker. They begin their comments with, “don’t tell anyone where you heard this…” and they vehemently deny that they are ever the source of rumor and innuendo. The last thing they want is publicity. Offer to include them or to use them as a source when you speak to someone else and they will quickly stop. Do it enough and they will never gossip to you again!

Replace Gossip with Good

Just as gossipers depend upon anonymity, many also depend on a constant flow of bad or embarrassing news. For some reason, busybodies just don’t get as excited when the news is good.

You can use good comments, encouraging words or praise to deflect gossip. For example, when Mary starts to talk about Jill, you say, “You know I hate to hear that. Jill is such a nice person – she’s a dear friend.” Or ignore the gossip altogether and say, “Do you know what, I saw Jill (insert some good thing you saw her do here). She is so kind and thoughtful.” You get the point. Use good things as a shield against the bad.

Now this requires that you watch for good things to talk about. You know there is good in everyone. Even Hitler was an animal lover and a lover of the arts! There is also a nice side effect. When you spend your days looking for the good instead of the bad, your life will brighten. There’s plenty of good in the world. We just need to look for it and talk about it!

Apply the Golden Rule

Some of our readers are not church people. I know that. And some of the people you send this to will not be church people. In fact this article is not really a “churchy” post. But the Bible’s Golden Rule is very applicable here whether you believe in God or not.

Jesus taught us to treat others like we want to be treated (). This is sound advice that fits every person I know perfectly. No one wants to be mistreated. No one wants to be the subject of gossip – not even the gossiper! If each of us will apply the Golden Rule consistently gossip would simply cease. It cannot exist in an environment where we first consider the other person.

Gossip is a terrible sin which destroys. However it is a weak sin which is easily overcome when men and women of conviction choose to use their influence for good. Like darkness chased away by light, gossip is driven away by the light of kindness and consideration.

Spread that kindness in your home, church or workplace. If you wish, send this post to people who might be allies in the war to stop waging tongues. We need all the help we can get!

Be sure and leave your comments and suggestions below. Have you encountered gossip? How did you stop it. We would all love to know.

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12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)

{ 34 comments }

Tommy Stover October 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Amen!!!!!

Cade Somers November 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Great article and advice. Thanks, Bryant.

Charleen July 24, 2010 at 9:12 am

Great article!

Bryant Evans July 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Thanks Charleen! Please come back again!

4given2 September 21, 2010 at 10:48 pm

How should the gossiper stop gossiping; if it is a struggle in his or her life. Also when a person has a history of gossiping & wants to stop but people are continue to label that person, test that person and or set traps what should the person do that is trying to over come it?

Bryant Evans September 25, 2010 at 8:36 am

Great questions! Thanks for reading and thanks for asking. I have a post on that subject coming. I had never considered that aspect of gossip so I have been giving it some thought and doing some research. I’ll have the post up in a day or two. Actually, I think it may be two posts. One with how to stop gossiping and the other on breaking labels. But thanks again for your visit.

4given2 October 10, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Its me again; I am sorry to bother you, but I feel so helpless. No matter what I say I’m looked down on. I don’t know how or when to comment on something. I feel like crying, but I can’t because I’d rather hide from people because I’m afraid of what I might say:( I struggled with alcohol for years and that was easier to give up than gossip. Sorry to trouble you. no one takes me serious when I tell them what they are saying sounds like gossip he/she says it not gossip its true. I am so lost and i don’t know when to commitment or when not to.

Bryant Evans October 12, 2010 at 6:17 am

You are not a bother. The best suggestion I have to you is not to quit. Your success is not determined by what others do or say. Keep moving forward and don’t stop.

Remember, the best policy is to simply walk away from gossip. Obviously the truthfulness of a comment has nothing to do with whether it is gossip. Much gossip is true. But it is still gossip.

Thanks for reading and keep posting your comments and questions!

vols7873 November 21, 2010 at 1:09 am

How do I overcome the reputation of being a gossip…It is not malicous but I want to stop all together….HELP? If I shut my mouth when will people start to see I am no longer talking?

Cassie T. May 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Thanks so much!!!
I have gossiped a couple of times and I don’t feel good afterwards. I was at a small get together a couple of days ago and people were gossiping except one girl. Eventually, I joined in and later on that night, i wanted to be more like that one girl who wasn’t gossiping. When I got home, I cried because I feky and still feel terrible. I am trying to get forgiveness. Now, I have made an oath to myself not to gossip no matter how tempting it is. Thanks! :)

Bryant Evans June 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Hi Cassie, thanks for visiting. I’m glad you are working to improve things. The readers and I will sure pray for your success.

new hire June 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

The first day on my new job, my manager gossiped about another peer of mine. Its happened several times over the course of a couple months and has destroyed my confidence. WHAT COULD I HAVE SAID THE FIRST DAY ON THE JOB TO MY NEW MANAGER, TO STOP IT FROM CONTINUING? Professionally, and effectively.

Bryant Evans June 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

That’s a tough situation to be in. I’m not sure there is a “perfect” answer. But remember the one part of gossip that you have control over is – you. While you manager gossiped and cheapened himself you do not have to repeat the gossip. Make sure it stops with you.

Since it has happened before and will likely happen again, I would plan now to gently change the subject as soon as the gossip begins. I’m not sure you are in a position to rebuke your boss but you can develop strategies to limit it. Learn to guide the conversation away from gossip territory and back to safer, more godly and productive discussions. Avoid one-on-one time when you can as the gossip may be more likely then. Change the subject as quickly as you can. And if possible, offer a complement of the victimized coworker for every criticism of gossip the manager offers. Later, when you proven your bona fides with the boss, you can quietly and respectfully ask him not to gossip in your presence. Present it as a simple application of the golden rule.

Of course I assume you prayed about this and are continuing to pray for God’s wisdom, courage and protection.

Thanks for your question. Please come again!

Bryant

Taylor October 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I’m getting rumors started about me “sexually” and they’re not true but they still keep talking about me and please excuse my language but they’re calling me a “slut” and etc and i dont know what i should do no matter what i say it wont go away!!

Bryant Evans October 14, 2011 at 7:57 am

Hi Taylor, Thank you for visiting. I hope you will be a regular here.

I am sorry for your struggles. Many people have asked that question as they suffer with rumors. At the end of the day, we cannot force change on others. We can, however, regularly pray for them. I know it’s hard to pray for your enemies but that is the direction of our Lord.

Show kindness even to those who mistreat you. It may not change them but it will be good for you. I will keep you in my prayers.

ynattirb October 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Taylor, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. People are cruel and it’s hurtful to be called a slut whether it’s true or not. The word itself is nasty. You’re not alone though; through friends and gossip I learned yesterday about romantic/sexual relationships I’ve had with people that I didn’t come close to having and I’ve heard things I’m quoted to have said but that never came out of my mouth. I know better than anyone these things aren’t true but I also know it won’t change anything to go to each person and try to set my story straight. Actually, it would probably create more gossip.

I’m glad I found this page. The article and the comments are helpful. I’ve noticed all my friends (even close friends and family) gossip pretty much incessantly, about eachother, about me, even about people they don’t know. I know in my heart and in my mind that gossip is wrong. I know I should not engage in a negative conversation about a person who isn’t even present to defend themselves. Gossip gives two people who would otherwise have nothing to talk about a common interest and you shouldn’t need someone to talk about in order to establish a friendship with someone else. In the past I’ve tried justifying my participation by making excuses for it but it ends now. My main trigger is when I feel like I’ve caught someone doing something wrong. When this happens is it better to confront the person directly? I’m trying to figure out ways to diffuse my urge to gossip.

Bryant Evans October 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m sure they are helpful to everyone who reads them.

You ask a fine question. I would say that you should first confront the wrong-doer and clarify the issue with them. Only after a failed attempt at correcting the problem should you take the step of asking others to assist in resolving the matter.

Thanks for your visit. Please come again.

Samantha December 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

If someone is talking about a problem she is having w/ someone else. You would like to give her advice, but at what point would you say it is gossip? I think it might have a lot to do with if your heart is in the right place. You really want to help and not tear down someone. Any thoughts???

Nicky April 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Dear Pastor Bryant,

I have the worst problem gossiping and I find that I have little control over my big mouth (which is a lame cop out) but I end up speaking about colleagues and friends. This is so awful for me. I listen to myself talking and I’m horrified that I am actually engaging in gossip. It makes me feel sick and I feel real conviction but I am not changing my behavior. I am really struggling with this. How can I deal with this? I want to stop!!

miss know it all April 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I used to believe in turning the other cheek. Since my son had been bullied in the past and nothing worked, I finally told him to give the perp. a good swift punch to the face. It worked!
People keep taking this PollyAnna attitude and yet bullying is on the rise. You need to confront the gossiper. Tell them to backoff or you will sue them for slander. Turn the tables and threaten to spread gossip about them. Fight fire with fire! You will be empowered and the bullying will stop!

Bryant Evans May 6, 2012 at 7:43 am

Your comment was edited to remove a thinly veiled expletive. This is your only warning.

Your suggestion is horribly wrong as it will only perpetuate the gossip and ratchet up the anger and trouble. Turning the other cheek is a Biblical mandate and is reflected in the life and death of our Lord. I am sorry your son has been the target of bullying and gossip. But yours is no solution at all.

Tray May 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

What do you do if it is your Pastor that is starting most of the gossip? My Pastor says it is not gossip and talks about all the members behind everybodys back. I work for the Pastor so i hear a lot of it and what everyone is doing. but the set up I have is i cant rebuke the Pastor or say anything to the Pastor or I will get yelled at . i work for the church so I just sit and listen. It destroys the church over and over and i have become just like the rest. I am tired of it but it will never stop because the leader does it with most of the people at the church and when something goes down it ends up being partly my fault when it is found out. signed tired and sick of it all

Bryant Evans May 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Those who work in the church office face serious challenges like the one you just mentioned. But your situation is really not that much different from anyone else. It’s just that the stakes are higher for you. There are two possibilities. Hopefully your conduct before him will change his way of thinking. You could be where you are for just that purpose. It may be that he will not change and you will be left with a decision to make about your employment. In any case, remember to use caution and not gossip about the gossiper. Speak to him privately and then bring one or two with you. Spend some time with Matthew 18:15ff.

Thanks for your comment Tray and please keep coming back!

betty May 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

I intentionally googled ways to refrain from gossip. Me and a close friend of mine have a spiritual mentor who has a bad habit of gossiping about ppl, especially about ppl at the church we used to attend together. Even with me not going there anymore i noticed she avoids positive conversations concerning my new church but she is quick to say sumthing negative about her church. Its been going on since me and my husband starting going there almost two yrs ago. I am ashamed to say that i participated in a lot of it. I looked up to her bc she helped w out with so many spiritual things and she is a prophet of God so it was so easy to get caught up in it bc its been my weakness anyway. Recently she called to discuss my friend that she mentors as well and i knew then that i cudnt trust her….the scripture says not to touch Gods anointed and do His prophets no harm so i try to be careful w my words concerning her but Ive started changing the subject or replacing it with positive comments about that person instead. I hav noticed that there is no end to it once u feed it. Now that i am growing more and maturing spiritually it is uncomfortable to have those types of conversations with her or anyone anymore. I know God is not pleased with our behavior. I prayed about it and asked God to help her and work on me as well…ive also been distancing myself bc its inevitable that she is going to speak negatively about someone everytime she contacts me and I dont want any part of it…i hope that my example will have an influence on her this time. I hope Im not wrong for not wanting to be around her or talk to her as much bc of the negativity. Sometimes i feel guilty bc she is a prophet and has done so much for me. But i just cant tolerate it….the place God has brought me from she continues to hold on to and keep me involved, which is the church i left and the gossiping. Its just not right and i wont allow it anymore. Im ona negativity fast now. But i plan to make no gossiping as a part of my lifestyle, permanently. Its too deadly. Thanks so much for posting this. It confirmed a lot for me. Do u have any more suggestions on how i should handle this situation?

Bryant Evans May 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

There are not two standards, one for preachers and another for everyone else. She is responsible and should be corrected for her errors. Begin privately and then take one or two with you. Failing that, tell the church. That is God’s way.

The fact that you, at one time, gossiped, does not prevent you from leading others to righteousness.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you come again and spread the word.

just a child June 28, 2012 at 3:29 am

Hi, I understand exactly what you going through. I used 2 gossip myself, a lot. But God changed that and I’ve sobered up.

God instructs us 2 cut out anything that causes us 2 sin. So I would say confront the issue in a very respectful manner and if she refuses 2 change cut ties. Paul says don’t even greet such.
I hope this helps and remember I am only 22, much of what I saying is 4rm the Bible and not experience.
Love :)

Caren May 29, 2012 at 4:06 am

Hi

I have two problem people that has turned me into a bad-mouthing person.
One – Mother in law(MIL):
All she wants is money and luxuries from my husband who is her only child. She divorced my father in law 32yrs ago and never re-married. She never really had time for my husband and puts him on a constant guilt trip that he is not doing enough even though he is supporting her 100% financially with luxuries. There I go bad-mouthing again! This situation hurts me/us so much that I bad mouth her to my husband and to others and i can not seem to stop. He is fully aware of her ways and it crushes him emotionally. Help me!

Two: My 6.5yr older sister
My sister always has to have the last say, tells me bad things about myself eg. I am too cold, I intimidate people, i must be more warm and friendly etc. I am an Engineer and my personality is different to most females, I am who I am and I have a circle of people that really understand and like me. My sister is always alienating me in the family and hates if I get any attention. Although I am younger than her, I have achieved much more than her and in her eyes it seems like things come easy to me. When she treats me badly I gossip to vent. Went I vent to my family about her, they either don’t believe me or say that i mis -understand her. Whatever it is i need to find away to stop letting her actions hurt me emotionally and then gossiping about her! Help me.

Bryant Evans May 29, 2012 at 6:08 am

Hi Caren, I am sorry you are having such struggles with the very people that should be so dear to you. A couple of thoughts from your comment:
1. You get to choose your reactions. Some people really anger us but we still get to choose how we will react. Since you know what to expect from these two, you ought prepare yourself for any encounter with them.
2. You get to choose your contacts. These two are family so that is not totally true, but sometimes we just have to limit our contact with some people. Finding a graceful way to stay out of their presence should be a priority. I suspect your husband will understand.
3. Making certain that there is no truth to their criticisms. I am not saying they are right and you are wrong, but you should make sure that you are really as “good” with them as you think. A trusted and beloved third party can help observe and advise.
Keep praying and increase those prayers when you know you will be around those two. Don’t pray just for yourself, but for them too. You will find that it is really hard to be angry at someone you are praying for!

Bryant

Caren May 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thank you for the advice. I do keep my distance, however I can make a little more effort to be “good” to them, you are so right. Another important thing that I got from your wise words of wisdom is that I should pray. Thank you again, just mere politeness in your words is so motivating.

Gloryb August 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I’ve been struggling with gossip from others over the years, especially my sister. She has caused so much damage to hurt me and others which results in bad family relationships. Today I came up with an idea and that was to tell relatives that she has started a website called “gossipcentralca” and you can catch all her gossip about everyone on the net. All the links on how to put a riff on family, interferring in others personal lives, and the tactics you can use to destroy another person. I feel that if relatives heard this, they would question and approach the person. Think it might work in this computer age? Of course, no website but alot of questions with the word gossip thrown at her to try and answer. People like this need to be stopped and made aware of what they are doing is wrong. Turning the cheek does not work, nor does keeping silent defend what others think of you. I say expose the problem like every other problem and let those people know they are trouble makers.

cumar samaale geeddi August 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

dear sir
all the poeple gossip to me and insults to me and hurt to me everyday
how to stop insults pls give me a good advice

Bryant Evans August 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thank you for your question. If you mean that people are coming to you to gossip about others then the easiest answer is to refuse to listen. Second, take the gossip to the victim along with the name of the person who shared it with you. This will soon stop the gossip that comes to you.

If you mean people are gossiping about you then it is a bit more difficult. However I would directly confront the gossiper and challenge their facts. In the end, however, you must realize that only they can make a change. You really cannot force them to stop.

Thank you so much for visiting. I do hope you will come again.

Tired September 2, 2012 at 4:06 am

I am so tired of my subordinates using MSN whatsapp right in front of me to communicate when there are just 3 of us together in a room or at lunch. I have no idea what they talk about but I think it’s simply rude and ill mannered whether I’m the boss or not. How should I approach the topic with them?

A-nonymous June 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I dont know if this post is still monitored, but I wanted to say thanks so much for the advice in this article & for all the comments! Lately, I’ve been feeling convicted in the area of gossip. I started to realize how much gossip I tolerate & take part in…& it’s seems so innocent & “normal”–even in our church! I’m beginning to loathe it! So I, too, have been distancing myself from others who dont seem to share the same convictions, as it is hard to walk the straight & narrow around them. I was very distressed about it, as a few of the main gossipers are leaders in our church. I didn’t know where to turn…except the Word! The Lord showed me that it’s truly a heart issue…& if the heart isn’t changed on the inside, not much will change on the outside in the long run. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” & “you will know a tree by its fruit; a bad tree cannot produce good fruit…& visa-versa”. So while distancing myself from those who gossip might help my efforts to stop for a little while, the real work has to be done in my heart (& theirs) by God…via repentance, forgiveness & cleansing. My prayer & request for advice is: how & when do you confront church leadership (I am also a leader of less importance). The sad thing is, I’m beginning to find out that other people in the community view our church as a place of gossip. So should I confront in “tough love” for the sake of the gospel message? And should I go first to an elder? I’m not sure how they would respond–most likely very defensive, hurt & “betrayed”…based on past experience. Nevertheless, your techniques are so good & practical. I’ll start with them & see where the Lord leads. God bless & thanks so much!

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