Respectfully Yours: Gossip reflects poorly
I have a friend who I really like, with one exception. She will tell me things others have told her and it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me wonder what she says about me when I am not around. I would like to be able to keep this friendship, but not being able to speak freely with her makes me uncomfortable. How can I steer the conversation away from gossip?
Dear Reader, Gossip is unnecessary, unflattering and reflects poorly on character.
It would appear your friend is someone who thinks gossip is innocent and makes it a topic of conversation.
This is far from the truth. Gossip is hurtful and destroys reputations. This very unmannerly behavior has negative consequences and is something you should actively avoid.
Anytime someone engages in sharing private information about others, it’s a serious friendship breach. Friends are supposed to be the ones you can trust. You can try preserving your friendship by nipping this in the bud with some clever conversational skills.
Since you want to try to remain friends when your friend makes comments about others, stay neutral. Do not express your opinions. This only encourages the topic of conversation to continue.
You might try saying, “Do you think that person wants this known?” Let your friend know what she is talking about sounds like a private matter and you want to respect that privacy.
You are right to be concerned. A person who will gossip about others is certainly likely to gossip to others about you. To prevent the far-reaching consequences of rumors, avoid sharing personal information about yourself or your family.
Gossip deflects attention from a person’s own imperfections onto other people’s shortcomings. It’s important to realize you may not be able to change her behavior, but you can change your behavior and distance yourself from your friend.
Always keep in mind that what you choose to discuss helps define who you are as a person.
Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn
Have a question? Email: email@example.com. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol and on the board of the National Civility Foundation.
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