So, let’s talk about the gossip-hydra!
(I’m calling it a hydra because I’ve talked about this blog post with varied people, and in every discussion we went from ‘gossip bad’ to ‘well..but what about..?’ and ended up having a great talk about a lot of opinions and definitions and use of gossip. So consider yourself warned, duck those teeth, and let’s begin.)
Something happens, and GADS you just need to go TALK to someone because you’re so full of WTF about what was said/done/witnessed, you’ve just got to get it out. That’s human. That’s healthy.
And that’s gossip. And it can cross the line, if you’re not careful.
There’s a huge difference between, “I’m annoyed at what Penelope did,” and, “Penelope’s a bad person because she did such-and-such.” There’s also a difference between venting to a neutral party and venting to someone that is affected by the situation at hand. That right there could be not-your-best-idea. It almost always means drama…even if you can’t see it, or didn’t mean it to be a bad thing.
We generally see gossip as the spreading of lies, an attempt to hurt someone’s reputation. But one of the reasons I say gossip is a hydra is that the word has varied meanings. The definition of the word is, simply, “a rumour or report of an intimate nature.” Psychologically, gossip has been shown to be a way of creating social bonds, and it’s possible that gossip is even a part of our evolution. At its heart, gossip is a relaxed way of sharing information about non-present people. As odd as it is to consider, gossip can be a positive thing. Telling someone that Penelope’s aunt passed away? That’s gossip. But if by sharing that information, you’re increasing Penelope’s support network and giving people the chance to pay their respects? That’s useful.
So here’s something to consider before you open your mouth and start talking about Penelope…
- Is it true?
- Will it benefit anybody knowing this?
- Would you be willing to be known to all as its source?
- Would you be willing to say it to the person’s face in public?
- Is your motivation to help the person, or is it self-seeking?
Now, sometimes you can go through that list, decide ‘yes I should say this thing,’ and still have it go completely dramatastic because of the other person/people in your conversation. So I’d also add..
6. Can your audience handle your information?
(Personally? If I’m not sure, I’ll ask. That’s definitely a YMMV sort of thing, however!)
Another teeth-filled head of the hydra is that you can have every right to vent about something going on..but gossiping at work (or in any social circle) can add to tensions once Penelope catches on that something’s being said. Which is going to lead to more venting. And we’re back to drama.
So. Control what you can. Go through those six points above. Consider whether or not what you want to say really needs saying..are you going to get halfway through your rant and realize, ‘Wow, this doesn’t really need to be shared,’ or, ‘I have no idea why I’m letting this bother me in the first place’? And put up boundaries. Don’t want to hear about Penelope? Say so. Being the person others vent to is an honour – it really is – but if what people are telling you is bringing you sadness, or if it’s mean-spirited venting, you don’t have to listen. You’re allowed to say no.
The goal of DRAMA FREE THURSDAY is pretty simple: These are posts that offer a different approach to stressful situations. Drama happens when we react without thinking, when we respond emotionally to a situation.
So! The first rule of DFT is – say it with me – “Your Mileage May Vary.” What works for me may not work for you. And that’s ok.
Second rule of DFT: YMMV. 🙂
Third rule of DFT: Discussion good. Drama? Not so good. Let’s try to avoid it in the comments. Tell me you don’t agree, tell me what the world looks like from your perspective, because I can guarantee you’re gonna have something to say that I hadn’t considered. This blogger’s soapbox is only an inch or so high…so please, share your thoughts and perspectives on whatever is posted here. (That rule goes for my blog in general, of course, but it makes sense to repeat it here.)