Overcoming Gossip

A while ago, I wrote about being happy for other people, and specifically about how it’s sometimes hard for me to do, especially when things aren’t looking so bright on my end. 

Today I want to focus on something that sort of goes hand-in-hand with that.  Because usually when we’re envious of something that is happening to another person, or when we are unhappy with ourselves for whatever reason, one of the first things we can turn to is gossip.

When people hear “gossip,” I think we automatically think of 13-year-old girls making up rumors about other 13-year-old girls.  That’s certainly awful, but what I’m talking about encompasses a lot more than just that.  I’m talking about any sort of uncharitable speech that serves no other real purpose than tearing another person down— whether it’s true or not.

It’s ugly, people.  And it has no place in our lives.  It’s against reason and all that is good and beautiful.

So, if you’re struggling with gossip, the first thing to do is to pray that God will help you overcome it.  Then, do what you can to take away the root of your desire to gossip.  Translation: Be genuinely happy for others (check out that other post to get my tips on how).

But it goes further.  Because if our brother or sister is being torn down in any way, we can’t just stand idly by and let it happen.  So, three things to help you evangelize by stopping gossip:

1. Speak Up

It’s ok to tell people they’re wrong when they’re doing something wrong (most especially if you know them well and it’s clear to them that it’s coming from a place of love).  If the conversation turns sour, speak up and defend whoever they’re mocking.  Tell them flat out that you don’t appreciate them speaking that way.  It may be scary, but it’s effective.

2. Be Cheerful

This one’s a little bit more subtle than the first.  Perhaps you don’t know the whole situation, but you still know your friends shouldn’t be speaking so harshly.  Now is the time to be positive.  Misery loves company; it hates cheerfulness.  You know your friends don’t truly want to wallow in misery so logically the most loving thing to do in this moment is to be cheerful and not indulge in the misery.  They may get annoyed with you, and you’ll be exhausted from trying to be so positive, but it will help everyone involved.

 

3. Shut Up

Like we were all taught in Kindergarten: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  It still applies.  Sometimes the most powerful witness is a silent one.  Even if people don’t take notice right away, eventually they will realize that there’s something different about you: you don’t take part in the tearing down of others.