I have a particular friend whose greatest joy is to talk. Specifically, she loves to talk about others. No one likes to admit that we gossip, but we all are guilty of indulging in it from time to time. Whether its checking up on the latest celebrity blogs or skimming the tabloids at the checkout stand in the grocery store—we love to sneak a peek into the lives of others. But what about the people who you actually know? Is it ever okay to gossip about friends?
If you have ever tried to avoid conversations with a gossipy friend, take note… there is hope to stop the gossiper in her tracks!
1. Redirect the conversation… try to get the gossiper to talk about herself instead of others. Hopefully she’ll get distracted and drop the subject altogether.
2. Do not take the bait… if the gossiper asks you what you think about some situation that involves a friend or associate of yours and it’s really none of either of yours’ business, do not offer any feedback. Disengage, play dumb if you must.
3. Point back to the source… if your talkative friend is involved in an entanglement, is over-sharing or being mean-spirited as a way to vent, suggest that she talk to the person who she has the issue with. Stay neutral. You would not want something that you said in the heat of the moment to get repeated (after all, you’re talking to a gossiper, remember?).
4. If all else fails be direct… be firm, yet polite when you state that you do not think the friend that is being discussed would appreciate being talked about behind their back. The gossiping party may get offended but that is not your concern.
Let the gossiper know that as a friend, you trust that the things the two of you discuss would be kept private and you want to give your other friends the same respect. Remember the Christian Louboutin on the other foot… if your friend gossips about others, there is a good chance she gossips about your business as well. Think about how you would want to be handled if you were the topic of discussion. Respect the boundaries that you set by refusing to participate even if the gossip is juicy.