Actually this post is not only about gossip, but the power of words. which unfortunately way more often is used in its destructive power, than in its supportive quality.
we all want to be seen as who we are and it’s a sad but true thing that way more often we are seen by what the words of others make of us.
i have a history of being the person others made of me, quite often it was to my „advantage“ as well and i am sure you know what i am talking of. i don’t think there is a single person living in western society not having experienced gossip.
gossip – or the story, others tell us – influences us to see a situation or a person in a different light and it is really hard to resist or not to make up your mind caused by the words of others.
for example: a spiritual teacher of mine has a wife, she is organising a lot of his workshops and online appearance. i have never actually met her. but every time her name appears next to a newsletter or information, i go „humpf, her again, she is taking over“. why so? the friend of a friend gave me „information“ about her (if a man gossips, it’s not gossiping its giving relevant information). and even that i don’t even like or trust that guy very much, his words influenced how i see her. she didn’t had a chance to be seen as she is or might be. in the end all i know by myself is that she supports her husband with his teachings, what could be seen as a very nice thing.
contrary to the public idea ( and my sketch) gossip is not gender specific. men do it as much as women do and gossip is very often not meant to be evil, we just want to belong, want to be part of a group and sharing gossip and the laughter, in which it results gives that feeling. We are seeking emotional communion. Words used destructive are often hidden in un-requested advice, critics, and even praise – aiming to interfere and manipulate. „I mean well, I did it for the best …“ etc.
we ourselves often do the same – using the negative power of words against our own person (as if it wasn’t hard enough to deal with the harsh words of others).
ok, i don’t have the solution, but i do the following:
– if i catch myself gossiping or judging others, i don’t blame myself but ask what made me do it? did i feel insecure? did I wanted to belong?
– i stop complaining. if i find myself complaining i will change the complaint in a sentence leading to a possible action: like „client xyz is so annoying“ – realising i complain about the client, i am going to say than: „i realise client xyz ist taking a lot of energy and time, i am going to check if the outcome i have from that client is worth it, otherwise i suggest someone else to that client.“
– i do not take the words of other people personally (manifesto alarm!!!!) what ever they say has nothing to do with me, but with them.
– i make sure that my friends get aware of the power of words as well, or I may make them read this post.
further reads which inspired my thinking leading to this post a while ago:
the complete guide of not giving a fuck
Great post – it gave me a lot to think about. Too often, I use gossip to connect to people – as you say, it gives a feeling of belonging. When all else fails, talking about someone else can be the lowest common denominator in a conversation – but if that’s all we can find, it’s probably not worth having that conversation ;-)
Thank you for your comment – glad you like it.
Hello, I found this article by googling for help – and you helped me.
Knowing i am not alone.
I lost everything in my life because of gossip and good advice.
Iam from Poland and moved to the UK 6 years ago. I am a technician (polymer plastics etc.) and worked for an english company in Poland, they asked me to come to the UK as a specialist. There I met my husband, a lovely but weak man. As soon as we started dating people talked about the “polish woman trying to get an english passport and an english man with money” – with my job I can work in almost every european country with no problems and i earned 3 times as much as my now former husband. At one point he was strong enough to ask me to marry him because he wanted a family with me. we have now two little kids, and Iam still working full-time because we couldn’t live from his job. At one point the people started talking about me being always dressed “to good” and travelling so much, I might be a polish prostitute etc. everybody knows the company I am working for and what job I do. Some of my husbands female friends told him to check me out via phone and other “good tips“ to find out if iI am an escort, or having an affair with my boss. Others told him he can’t be happy with me because of the cultural differences and he didn’t love me he was just attracted to the exotic. Yes, don’t laugh, it’s the first time i heard that Poland is exotic. But he never stood up for me, and at point avoided to go with me to the pub where his friends where. That made them even more suspicious and gossiping. “Why is she never with you? If You don’t stand by her there is a good reason for this …”
In the end the good advice was worse than the gossip, especially the female friends had always something to say, they might not even have met me, but were able to give Greg advice what to do and how we have to live and deal with everything. At one point he broke up with me because of the constant advice of his very good friend Fiona. You might say he is not worth it and you might be right but I wish I could have found out if the man I fell for was there somewhere and if we could have had a chance when not everybody was interfering. I live now in Spain and try to stay away from everything Human in private.
Thank you for this lovely article. I am sure I will question my behaviour upon this in the future and i will teach my children to let the people be – without good advice.
hello paulina, thank you for your comment.
i know how you feel – i felt the same. and got angry.
you will go your way. it seems you are a strong and intelligent person.
keep the head above water, as alexis murdoch said.