Advice on Gossiping?

Hi everyone,

I’ve been going to Confession weekly for some time now. I always write down my sins and read from the list, and I’ve noticed a trend in the area of gossip. I REALLY struggle with the Eighth Commandment!

It’s hard enough holding my tongue as the INITIATOR of gossip, but I can most of the time manage to choke the words down. My question is this: what do you do when you’re NOT the initiator, but rather, the receiver of gossip?

Cause on one hand, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of the person who is gossiping to me by dismissing them, but on the other hand, I know I’m offending God by slandering a person’s good name. I guess I’m just looking for tips on how you all avoid/handle this situation (receiver of gossip, not starting it).

Going to weekly Confession has been very powerful in demonstrating to me the areas of my life which need work if I’m to become a saint, and this particular sin is front and center. Your advice and prayers would be greatly appreciated!

God bless you!
Tara

My advice on gossiping is don’t.

If they can gossip about other people then they can gossip about you and tear you down behind your back. Best to stay away from this kind of people. It is a choice to seek out many loving people committed to helping others. MOst people who gossip are people who are just idle and lack work. Please busy yourself with more important things like helping the poor…do more spiritual works of mercy.

In the past I’ve tried sticking up for or saying something nice about the person being gossiped about. That didn’t really work as folks already have their minds made up about what they wish to believe about a person or incident.
Now I tend to either walk away and ignore what is being said. I’m not concerned with their feelings if they wish to talk about someone else.
Sometimes I will try to change the subject-if that doesn’t work I again will walk away. As much as possible I try to avoid the gossips-this isn’t easy but worth the effort. Blessings.

I just tell people I really don’t want to have anything to do with gossip, and I don’t. I won’t indulge in it or listen to it.

When things start going south, just SMILE and say “Oh, this is beginning to sound like gossip, talk to you later guys” and walk away FAST. Soon, acquaintances realize that you won’t participate on any level, and they’ll keep the conversation clean from there on out. It’s no fun for a gossiper if there is no one willing to listen. :wink:

It’s a little difficult to give advice without some more background. Are you 16 yo in HS, or 40 yo in a work environment, or is something in the family, or in the parish? Each situation is going to need a little different strategy. Work or family situations will probably being the most difficult.

Under any circumstance pray on it. Remember that God brings us to Him through our weaknesses. Use this as a way to grow.

Hi Tara,

I understand that you are concerned about being dismissive towards someone, but gossip usually revolves around “I heard…” or “I think…” and not facts. “I saw so and so talking to her and I’ll bet they are doing this or that - secretly.” The gossiper doesn’t know anything for a fact but has this strong feeling about this person and what they might be doing.

I was talking to a lady friend who just got a new job. As we talked, she said the only thing she didn’t like about her job is “All the women gossip.” So I asked her what she did. She said, “I don’t participate.” I mean, she’s a very nice person.

God bless,
Ed

This may or may not be helpful, but this thread caused me to remember what my mother would say whenever I would complain to her about the faults of others. She would listen patiently. When I paused, she would say matter of factly, “She only has nice things to say about you.” Or, “She speaks highly of you.”

I’m not even sure why - maybe it made me think personally about how I would feel about other people talking about me - but it made me uncomfortable to speak negatively about other people.

It’s a hard one , something that we all do (Whether we admit it or not) And a hard one to break the habit of … I know I’m working on it in my prayer , asking for the strength to keep my comments to myself, to not join in and for the courage to speak out when I hear it happening … Its tough

I think trying to stay away from people that you normally would have gossiped with , or at least limiting contact with them is one way to get around that … This maybe hard if you are close friends with people but having said that if you were worth as much to them as you think wouldn’t they stop the gossip if they knew it offended you ?

Honestly, gossip is one of those sins that’s really hard to break, especially if the people that you’re talking to are coworkers on your team! You don’t have an option to not work with them, and quite often friendly conversation turns into gossip without anyone really realizing it until later. And honestly, this is how most gossip really happens - by carelessness.

It’s rarely going to be, “Hey, Janey! I just heard that Angie’s having an affair with Jim!” No, instead, it’s more like, “Ugh! Lety, I’ve had the worst day possible. I can’t stand Mike! All he does is just sit there and order me around! Doesn’t he get it that we’re both on the same team and that we’re supposed to be doing stuff together? It’s not supposed to be him telling me what to do and me doing all the work!” Or, it happens by saying, “Remember how so-and-so used to do this?”

In other words, if you’re doing your best to avoid talking to people who want to hear and speak juicy gossip, the next thing you need to do is to try to be more mindful of what is said in casual conversation. And that can go for all of us, really.

YES!!! This is exactly the problem (and yes…it’s with co-workers). I work in this area of 4 cubicles connected, and 1 of the ladies in particular is always complaining about this person or that person. To make matters worse, we have an instant-messaging capability on our network, and she’ll send me private IM’s whenever she doesn’t want to be heard gossiping out loud. And sometimes, the desire to connect with others and belong just takes over me, and I take the bait!

But you’re right, it’s never that juicy tabloid kinda gossip. It always starts off as just regular, everyday issues and then spirals out of control.

Yes, it is hard. I deal with it at home (gossiping with family), and at work with co-workers. Every other Friday or so, my best friend and I get together at her house, have a couple glasses of wine, and gossip gossip gossip! It’s like a bonding activity or something!

Which made me think: could I not have fun with these people in my life WITHOUT gossip? Kind of like, “do I have to be drunk to enjoy hanging out with you?” LOL

Ooh, that’s a good one! I might have to use that. Of course, what if the victim of the gossip NEVER said anything good in particular about the gossiper? Then I’d by lying, which is ANOTHER sin!!! So frustrating.

Hi Ed,

Wow…does your friend work where I work? LOL! That’s exactly my problem. I sit in a section of 4 cubicles, and the others are occupied by all women…and boy oh boy can they (WE) gossip! To make matters worse, we even have an Instant Messaging application on our network, so if the gossip is really juicy and we don’t want to be heard out loud, just listen for the clicking keyboard, cause we’re sending IM’s to each other.

I usually try to put my headphones on and listen to music or Catholic videos on Youtube to avoid engaging in the gossip. But at some point, the headphones have to come off, and the gossip is there waiting.

I’m 36 and in the work force, which I’ve learned isn’t all that much different from High School, lol! But I find the gossip trap in all areas of my life: at home, with friends, and especially at work. When I’m at work, I sometimes put headphones on and listen to music or Catholic podcasts to sort of “excuse myself” from the conversation (if they see you can’t hear them, they won’t bother talking to you). But when the headphones come off, the gossip is still there.

Oh, I KNOW they talk about me, cause like you said, they talk about everyone else. Why should I be exempt?

I just wish I knew of a kinder, more ‘Christian example setting’ way of dismissing the talk. I hate the idea of hurting anyone, but on the same (and more important) note, I’m hurting God by hurting the victim of the gossip.

You’re right. Trying to alter the direction of the conversation in a positive way is futile. Whoever is being gossiped about is already the enemy in their mind, so nothing you say will change the gossiper’s viewpoint.

I may just have to suck it up and walk away. I usually have a hard time knowing I’m hurting/insulting someone, but at the same time, I’m hurting/insulting the victim of the gossip, only I’m doing it the coward’s way…behind their back. Maybe God is trying to teach me a little lesson in courage. :slight_smile:

Straight and to the point! :slight_smile:

That’s a great idea, except everyone already knows I’m capable of engaging in gossip. But you’re right, misery loves company.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.