Where is the line between gossip and venting?


As I am trying to drop my bad habits from my former life, one of my biggest struggles is gossiping and talking badly about people.

My work-place is the most difficult place.

I am currently working under someone who is very difficult to work with - in all honesty - they make my blood boil. I have been trying so hard to see Christ in this person and I have vowed, to myself, to not allow anger and irritation to build up in me anymore - but I am particularly challenged when it comes to this individual.

I try to listen to Christen music while at work - as I feel that this really helps me keep my focus and ease any feelings of frustrations - but I still find myself caught in situations where myself and other co-workers are speaking badly of this person.

I feel that on some level - it is ok to vent about frustrations - I mean, it is not healthy to keep all of those feelings to yourself. But then there is a line between venting and gossiping or being hateful.

Can anyone offer any advice?


A few guidelines:

*]If you wouldn’t say it to his or her face, you probably shouldn’t say it behind his or her back.

*]If it’s not constructive (“How can I resolve this problem with N.?” “You might try this …”), avoid it.

*]If it’s not charitable, avoid it.

Mind you, I’m not saying I always follow the guidelines perfectly. I wish I were better at it.


I had a boss like that once. I was unable to gossip or vent about her at work, however, because I could not tell who was loyal to her and would report back on what I had said. That did not stop me from getting very, very angry. Sometimes I told my DH all about it, and sometimes I just stewed. I spent more time in confession that year than I had in a long, long time, and that helped tremendously. I learned to pray for the woman, asking that God’s will for her be perfectly fulfilled. In the beginning, my thoughts were along the lines that revenge belonged to God, but later on, I was able to pray for her conversion and subsequent happiness. That took awhile, believe me! But it isn’t all that difficult to pray for God’s will, and that, of course, is the ultimate good for anyone. I also disciplined myself to put her out of my mind completely when away from work. If a thought about her popped up, I said a quick prayer and tried to distract myself.

Eventually, I was able to leave that job, and things got easier. I don’t know if you can look forward to that, but I hope so, for your sake. Good luck with this. It’s really difficult.



Venting at work could come around and bite you “you know where”.

I suggest journaling/documenting. I therapist once told me that writing can be more cathartic than talking. YMMV
But it may serve as perspective. I have documented at work because some of the things that have happened I consider “irregular”. Over time I saw a pattern of bullying (it was the pattern that made it bullying) versus just a bad day.

Your situation may not be a bullying or harrassment deal, just incompetance in full flower. Again it can give perspective: are there liability issues or is it just annoying? Sometimes it’s a little thing but it’s blown out of proportion because of all the other iregularites that remain unaddressed. If you aren’t in a postition to fire or reassign you can feel helpless and therefore frustrated.


I have this problem as well. I am in an administrative postion and this person is the receptionist. She is not very efficient and if she worked anywhere else she would have been fired long ago. But, you see, we work for the Church and this woman has some problems and we know she needs this job. The thing is she is making all our jobs more difficult and she seems to be getting worse at doing her job. The office manager and I find it difficult not to talk about her, and I often bring my frustrations with her back home to my husband (who thinks I should recommend letting her go since parishioners are also beginning to complain about her). I try not to gossip about her and I am careful not to talk about her with parishioners, but sometimes I just can’t cover up for her and I express my frustrations with her as well. I think we all don’t want to be the one who says, YES, let her go, but the talking about her in the staff kitchen really has to stop…and it is difficult to stop. And yes, we have spoken to her about her job performance.


More than one person has noticed that if you want to find out the latest, go to a prayer meeting–especially a Charismatic prayer meeting–where all details are given so the people there will be able to “pray intelligently.”



Seeing the Christ in other people does not always necessitate that we have warm, cozy feelings about them. Christ surely did not have warm, cozy feelings for the Roman guard who scourged him mercilessly. Love and forgiveness is not always about liking the other person. In fact, it’s completely possible to not like someone but to love them all the same. This is why Christ calls us to love our enemies, as he did.

I had a co-worker who about a year and a half ago I could not tolerate. She was technically my supervisor even though she wasn’t in any formal management position. Day in, day out, I found her demands to be too much, and there were times when I would cry as a result of feeling over-burdened by not only her demands but by my attempt to not curse her!

I soon learned that *nobody *liked her. She seemingly had no friends because everyone seemed to be repulsed by how she acted. Sometimes she would call while a group of us were out having a beer at a local pub, but nobody would answer. This got me to thinking: how would that make me feel? Here’s a divorced young woman, I remembered thinking, with two young kids, bad finances, and no friends: is it any wonder she acts as she does? She’s lonely, she needs understand – she needs love!

Mother Theresa wrote a beautiful meditation/prayer entitled “I Thirst For You.” It is a meditation involving Christ speaking directly to a person’s heart. At one point, Christ says,

I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations, I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? *“Come to Me all you who thirst…” *(Jn. 7: 37). I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on a cross for you.

(read the full text here)

Over time, I got to know my co-worker better each day by listening to her talk to me and to other people, by watching how she acted, and I began to see little pieces of myself in her. We really weren’t all that different, after all. Soon, when other people gossiped about her, I would have no part of it. We had a big downsizing at the office a few months back, and she was one of the many to be let go. I now miss having her around, and I pray for her often.

Maybe give yourself time to see why your own supervisor acts as he/she does. Is there something going on in that person’s life which makes them so intolerable? If so, what is it? Can you relate to those problems? If not, then try visualizing a day in the life of your supervisor. Only then will your need to gossip truly come to an end. And, as my priest has said in the past, if you feel the need to pray for someone who you think is sinful, then pray for yourself since you’re likely worse.


Thank you so much for this advice - so very, very helpful.

God Bless you.


Hi “MrsMeg”. This is a really difficult situation, I know. When I was still working outside my home… there was a guy at work who effected me the same way (as you described). I would go way out of my way, to avoid him.

But one day, it occurred to me… that I needed to pray for this man. I feel that my Guardian Angel made this suggestion to me. So… whenever I would encounter him… I would say a quick “Glory Be” for him. It evolved into more and more prayer for this person. And I eventually… I felt absolutely no desire to gossip or vent about him… or even to dislike him. I arrived at a place, where I felt great sympathy for him… because I would often hear the comments of others about him. It was sad. :frowning:

I had to leave my job in February of 2008… but I still pray for him. So… my suggestion, is that you pray for the person. Start out with a short, sincere prayer for their well-being. And see what Our Good Lord does with it. I think you will be happily surprised. :slight_smile:

God bless.


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