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Living Different

When People Talk – Gossip: Engage or Walk Away?

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We’ve glanced at the supermarket tabloid only to see that ‘evil’ reality star beauty whose life is in shambles.  We’ve talked with other neighbors about the unlucky fate of a fellow neighbor’s financial woes.  A good story is juicy.  We revel in its deliciousness, if only to escape our own troubles.

Schadenfreude is German for pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.”

Does it leaving us feeling good?  For some, yes.  For those who’ve also been on the wrong side of gossip, there’s a voice inside us or a gnawing in our stomachs which alerts us to our harmful behavior.

I can remember trying to “please” a manager and co-worker, sitting in on negative talk about several individuals while we had down time.  I felt terribly mad at myself afterward.  I then remember when I asked to be transferred from that division when the same manager’s negative talk surfaced about me.

One thing’s certain, if there’s a gossip  – don’t worry, they’ll get a turn on your life when you’re not around.

Gossiping about others feels like we’re unclean in our intentions.  Yes, it can be ever-so exciting to hear of drastic news, however, gossip costs the victim their dignity and the gossiper self-respect.

Ever have a gossip hangover?  We are unable to truly look at ourselves in the mirror.  We fill more time with useless trivia to drown our self-disappointment.  We realize if the tables were turned, we would not want to be the one with burning ears as our personal appearance, financial status or relationship is whispered about.  We rationalize our group talk assuming they brought it on themselves.

Discovering that someone we consider a friend has shared personal information about us minus our consent hurts, too.  Is it malicious or a need to share experiences with one another?  For most women, sharing about others is a form of bonding with one another.  For men, it can be “talking shop.”

Which side of gossip have you been on?  For most of us, it both sides.  How have do you handle things when it’s you who is snickered about?  Do you confront?  Retaliate with your own rumor?

How do you handle gossip?  What if the information spread about someone is false?  What if it’s true?  If true, is it still wrong to engage in it?

When discovering an acquaintance has gossiped about you, providing distance, skirting the issue, changing the subject to deflect your own information with “and how’s it going with you?” limits that gossiper’s power.

With friends and family, the dance is trickier.  It’s painful and infuriating.  Sometimes gossip is the only way a family communicates, backbiting and with hushed stories, instead of confronting the person who has ‘wronged’ them.  Is the gossip based in judgment or jealousy?  Maybe both?

Here are three interesting looks at gossip, both from different parts of the world with similar messages.  The first is a psychological look, the second is more pop culture, and the final video is religious in nature.

(Please note: this video varies in languages.  The beginning, although not in English, is clear in some respects regarding body language.  The video transitions to English further in.)

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2012 by and tagged , , , , , , .
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