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 (Matthew 7:12). 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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