Can I share something with you that really ticked me off?
I’m sure you’re quickly learning that I’m an extremely passionate person. I love hard, laugh hard, work hard and play hard. That means that I cry hard as well, and I’ve been known to express anger pretty hard, too. What can I say? I live hard…100% me, no holding back, take it or leave it. I’m learning that I might be too much for some people, but guess what…then they’re not my people.
I’m a generally up beat person. I like to consider myself a peacemaker. My natural tendency and intention is that I want everyone to win. I’m supportive, amicable, cheerful and definitely willing to put in the effort to create collaborative teamwork. That is…until my values and boundaries are challenged or violated. Then, I’m ready to fight to protect myself and those around me.
This past week, I encountered a situation where I felt manipulated, almost shamed, into thinking that I had inadvertently offended someone and they were then expressing to others how angry they were with me. The messenger just wanted to share with me what was being said about me so that I could work to “make things right”. (Yes, even as an adult, I find myself in the “he said/she said” game and we all know that once the gossip goose leaves it’s nest, it squawks and pesters everyone within earshot.)
My initial reaction was shock. Were people really upset with me? Clearly there’s a misunderstanding! This wasn’t the first time this messenger relayed information to me about people upset about something I had done. I decided to go to the source. After uncovering that what was shared with me was not only false, but actually created by the “messenger” in order to manipulate me and a situation in order to benefit herself, I got angry. It was a very sneaky, passive aggressive way of her getting to me, under the premise that someone else was upset with me. Can we just take a moment to say “What the damn heck?!”
To make a long story short, the messenger began back pedaling and trying to twist the words to hide her original manipulative intent. My interpretation of her actions is that through that specific tactic she has gotten what she wanted before; I doubt many people would have called her out or nipped the gossip right away. Unfortunately for her, I most certainly will call people out when they are dishonest and spread gossip, and that’s exactly what I did. I know myself and my intentions and if I believed that I didn’t not intentionally try to offend someone, then I’m confident enough to approach them to clear the air and reconcile. Had I not done that, there would have been tension and discomfort because I would have believed that the other person was upset. If I took the gossip and allowed it to affect my actions so that I shrunk back to just allow people to do what they wanted out of fear of upsetting them more…perhaps the deceit would not have been caught, but trusting myself and my intentions gave me the platform to open communication.
Gossip is sharing a problem with someone else who cannot contribute to a solution. It’s also sharing information with others that is more harmful than helpful, with no intent of resolution. In this case, the gossip was in fact a deceit. So how can you nip it?
If you find yourself listening to a problem that you know you cannot successfully contribute to finding a solution (either by being a support to the person that needs to take an action, or helping brainstorm solutions with all parties involved) then offer your sympathy towards the stress, but remove yourself from any involvement of the problem. You can love and support others’ feelings without getting involved in the “issue”.
Go to the Source
If you’re in a situation where you’re hearing that someone said something about you or feels a certain way about something you’ve said or done. Go to them and get the facts first hand. You may need to refer to my previous post on difficult conversations:
And this also applies to when you’re upset with someone. It is better to go to the source, than to vent your feelings all through the group, company, organization, team, or family. Having that difficult conversation towards resolution will be so much harder if you spent time airing out the dirty laundry to everyone else not involved beforehand.
Shut it Down
If the messenger says, “oh no, don’t do that…then they’ll know I told you!”, then refer to the first highlighted point ” DON’T PARTICIPATE”. You could simply ask them, “Then what was your intent on sharing this information with me, because if I can’t talk to them, then I cannot resolve the matter? Please do not share information with me if I am then asked to not take action to find resolution. In the future, do not tell me anything unless you’re prepared for me to take action.” In this, you’re setting a boundary that you do not listen to gossip, you are solution focused and only interested in hearing things that support growth, promote resolution or build you and those around you closer and stronger.
Gossip leads to misunderstandings, poor interpretations and focuses on spreading the negative feelings (even disguised as venting) rather than being solution-driven and having open, transparent communication. Gossip also allows insecurities, animosity and self-doubt to creep in and block you and your team from reaching success. Gossip is toxic and when we share information with no intent to reconcile, it pulls our energy away from growth. It drains us and constricts us disabling us from reaching our full potential. However, YOU always have a choice. Stop it in it’s tracks, before it stops you.
For more information on Nipping the Gossip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org