In discussing the five steps necessary to break this destructive habit, we saw that Step #1 was to be aware that you have this problem, and Step #2 was to make the decision to overcome it. Let’s continue.
#3 Build a Fence, or, “Don’t Bring Home The Oreo’s”
In Other words, as much as you are able to, keep away from situations that usually lead to gossip. In the same way that a fence will hopefully keep an unwelcome neighbor from entering your property, or not keeping Oreo cookies in your home will keep you from indulging in an 11:00 junkfood snack, avoiding “gossip-laden” situations will help you to resist that particular temptation.
#4 As David Bowie Sang, “Ch-Ch-Ch-Change” (the subject, that is)
Whether talking to an individual or to a group, if you sense gossip about to be spoken (or it just has been), quickly – yet smoothly and tactfully – change the subject. Don’t insult, put down or embarrass the person who’s talking; just simply change the direction. How to think of something on the spot to change it to? That’s where preparation comes into play.
Have, in your mind, several topics, recent events, or other happenings (non-gossipy, of course) into which you can easily segue. If this fails to stop the gossip, simply politely excuse yourself and exit stage left (or right). If they ask why you are leaving. you can either suggest (kindly) that talking about others makes you feel uncomfortable, or you can simply say you need to leave. You are telling the truth; you DO need to leave…in order to avoid listening to gossip.
In the next article, we’ll look at the fifth and final step; this one actually “reversing” the process…in a good way.