Often times people start telling me the faults of others. Being the friendly person I am, I listen to what they have to say and may giggle a bit.
I could be wrong, but I think I spoke with two different priests on the subject and I recall on both occasions they recommended changing the subject.
While changing the subject may work fine in one on one conversations, this can be next to impossible (at least for me) when you add one more person. Heck, its hard enough one on one. I don’t understand if when changing the topic you have to interrupt them or not. I’m too nice to interrupt someone intentionally and changing the subject is hard. Why can’t one simply stay silent? That’s a lot easier.
I understand and share your predicament. When its something gor which I can offer an alternative viewpoint, I often do. I will say, Really? But what about this or that other angle? Or I will offer advise: Have you tried yo speak with this person? Maybe you can say this or that? That is usually when the gossip is essentially complaints about the persons behaviour that the gossip is upset about.
When it is just general criticism and not particular complaints, I stay silent like you do and smile nervously, in a way that says I’m uncomfortable I think. Because many people feel uncomfortable with my lack of input and start to explain themselves and then will avoid it in future.
The times I HAVE gossiped, once was under the influence of a crush. I wanted to brag that I could read people so well. Didnt even think about it until after. I was so embarrasses and wanted to puke. On top of it, I was even more mortified that this guy now thought I was a gossip queen which I soooo am not! I really regretted that whole silly thing. Oy!!! The foolish things crushes make us do!
I would ask them to read “Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor. I have a family member of mine that constantly takes negatively about other people, and whilst I understand some of the complaints, I told her that she needs to look at herself first, and I suggested she read that story (which is one of my favourites by O’Connor). It is not about gossip specifically, but about passing judgement on other people, and I think that can help people take a step back and say “whoa. Maybe I’m not completely innocent myself”. Great story. Flannery O’Connor was a Catholic writer (mainly short stories) from the Southern United States (Near Milledgeville, Georgia). I suggest this because I think it helps people think about themselves more. If they are Christian, I’d ask them to read Matthew 7:5
This tells me you and they are wasting time at work on someone else’s dime. Find work to do and make yourself useful. Clean, restock, be busy and earn your wages. The devil loves idle hands and minds. You have written about gossiping several times now and everyone has given you good advice. If you don’t listen here speak to your priest as this is more a matter for the confessional than here. Move on and upward. Peace.
Another thing is to be the person that takes the part of the absent party. If one is being gossiped about, they can hardly defend themselves and they do need a defense. Gossip walks hand in hand with character assassination, detraction.
Say something along the lines of, “you know so-and-so could probably clear this up if she were here, let’s go have this conversation with her” & walk away or change the subject.
Also remember that it someone will gossip to you they will gossip about you.
Silence can be golden or find a way to leave. Honestly, you could try being direct but they may cause people to think you are holier than thou and the one time you do give into gossip people will remind you of what you said. It is not always best to tell people directly that they are wrong. You can listen but not repeat. Honestly, IT MAY BE BETTER TO ASK SOMEONE WHY THEY FEEL THAT WAY. There is a reason they don’t get along with this person. Give them ways to maybe solve the issue. That is my two cents. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.
My dad used to say there are three levels of conversation:
For some reason this has stuck with me all of my life. When anyone starts gossiping with me I feel a little repugnance - I am engaging in something base. I don’t like doing that so I withdraw. Once in a while I get sucked into it but I always regret it and the next time I am talking to that person I will just say “that’s bashing. I don’t want to do that.” If someone gossips about someone else to you, that means they gossip about you to others. You have to weigh how valuable a friendship is with that person. Not very high, right? (I do love to talk about ideas though and this can be about people; how to change things, what is wrong with a system or department. I just don’t care about people’s private lives. I will criticize co-workers in terms of work issues but I always frame it in a professional way I could say to their face or to their supervisor; I don’t get personal or in the mud.) You should not care enough about your coworkers’/neighbors’/acquaintances’ personalities to expend emotional/mental energy this way. I think if you are doing this consistently you are into it more than you admit. Gossiping I mean. I find that losing or avoiding relationships with gossipers is quite freeing and healthy. Puts you in a better place. So that is where I stay.
(when you see dog poop in the grass do you step in it? why or why not?)
Don’t respond. Part of the “fun” in gossiping is getting to see the other guys reaction when you tell them the news. Don’t respond and NEVER REPEAT IT. Sometimes you can’t help hearing gossip, but don’t repeat it if someone else asks you about it. You will soon get the message out that you are not interested in gossiping and the busybodys will move on. Walking away works best if you see a Gossip coming your way and you can duck out of range before they get to you.
The first thought that came to my mind when I read your post was to “walk away,” if you can do it, whether you’re in a work situation or in a social situation, where you can excuse yourself to get back to work or to go and do something else if you’re in a social situation.
Ask them to pray with you and then give a prophetic word as in 1 cor 14:25, reveil the heart. The holy spirit will give u a prophetic word. Just ask. Listen and speak. It is easy if u are born again as in acts 19.