In Parts One and Two we explored the first four steps to overcoming the Gossip Habit. They include Awareness, Decision, Avoidance and Action. Now, let’s actually turn a potentially negative situation into something good.
#5 Play the “Reverse Gossip” Game
This is where, when someone says something negative about someone, you relate a good point or characteristic of theirs, instead. Pat says, “Tom is really lazy.” You respond, “I’ve never noticed that. Sure has a good way with people, doesn’t he?” Caution: Be very tactful. Appearing antagonistic will only lead to argument and more negative talk.
Taking this to another level, if two people constantly express their mutual dislike in the form of gossip, say something complimentary to each one about the other, get them to agree, and then share that. Ahhh, “Reverse Gossip” at its best. You might just make peace between them, which is one of the most righteous deeds a human being can perform.
Here’s how it might play out…
John: Mary is really lazy.
You: I’ve never noticed that. She is talented, wouldn’t you agree?
John (Grudgingly): Yes, I guess so.
Later you see Mary in the coffee area and the conversation goes as follows…
You: I was talking with John earlier. He was saying you are very talented (after all, he did agree to that, didn’t he?).
Mary: Wow! I didn’t know he thought that of me. I’ve always felt he was very judgmental and snobby.
You: Hmm, never picked up on that. Really hard worker, isn’t he?
Mary: Well, I guess you have to give him credit for that.
The next day you and John are talking and you happen to mention…
You: Mary was talking about how hard a worker you are.
John: Really? Didn’t think she liked me, but maybe she’s not so bad after all.
Now, the next time John and Mary cross paths they both see each other in an entirely different light, with a completely different attitude and set of expectations – one of peace, enjoyment, and kindness. And it all happened because of you.
So far, great. Not only have we licked our own gossip habit; we’re helping others with theirs, as well. But, what happens when you fall back into old ways? It’s certainly happened to me. We’ll look at that in the next installment.