Have you ever sat down with a group of friends to have a joyful, encouraging visit only to have the momentum start swinging in the direction of gossip? I think we all have. If you are a woman then I believe it is pretty safe to say that you have at least once in your life entertained the thought of joining in or have actually participated in gossip. Some of us have even been clever enough to mask it as prayer or concern, haven’t we? But we have all learned right? [insert laugh] So what do we do when we are around those who haven’t?
1. Speak positively about the person who is being targeted. When someone becomes the focus of the conversation and is being projected in a negative light, speaking positive things about the person will usually cool down the heated discussion. Something as simple as, “Susie? Oh, I just love her hair. Don’t you?” can give you control of the conversation.
2. When you are approached by someone who is known to be a gossip try to be the one to start the conversation. Some people still have a difficult time overcoming the battle of gossiping. When you are being approached by such a person it helps greatly if you set the tone for the discussion.
3. Be upfront about your convictions toward gossip. Sometimes you just have to know when to speak up. If you are constantly bombarded with gossip from a particular group of friends or a specific person then let them know that you have a hard time hearing things that you have no business knowing. Don’t be judgmental towards them but let them know where you now stand.
Try something like this: “Ladies, I’m sorry. I know I’ve participated in these discussions many times but I just can’t anymore. It is bad for me, bad for you, and it isn’t good for those we are talking about. Let’s just change the conversation because these people aren’t here to defend themselves and if you don’t want to change the conversation then I’ll be happy to walk away while you all talk to each other about it.”
4. Redirect the conversation. I know ladies who are awesome at the fine art of redirecting a conversation. I honestly think that in the spare moments of life, they think of things to say to redirect a discussion gone sour. In the middle of hearing, “Well did you see what Sindee wore to church on Saturday?” she interjects and says, “Oh forget that! Let me tell you what I experienced with my bra the other day…” and of course, she regains control of the room. No one is worried about Sindee anymore and the mishap with the bra pinching up the back of her shirt as she walks through Starbucks brings lots of laughs.
5. Pray. We can make it a point to pray before we gather with a group of friends and we can also make it a point to pray as soon as all of your friends arrive to the gathering. Speaking words through prayer such as: “Father, help us to keep our conversation pure, lovely, and of good report” are often all you need to prevent a friendly evening from getting ugly. If you can’t do that or if it is forgotten, praying silently helps to purge your heart and requests for God to intervene.
I know we have all been the targets of such gossip and most likely we have all been sharers of these so called “juicy morsels.” With that said let’s remember that no one is perfect and we can’t expect them to be. The only person we can attempt to control is ourselves. If you work to change yourself in this area then you will not only have saved your soul from these negative words but you could very well be a shining example to your friends.
What do you do to avoid gossip?