BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
Mind your business.
This isn’t easy! Researchers have proven that gossip has been essential to advancing our society and creating bonds between individuals over shared experiences. At the same time, innocent chatter about personal lives can get negative fast, and the toxic nature of gossip isn’t helpful to connection or advancement.
If you’re focusing on the mean side of a conversation and notice yourself being judgmental and rude about someone, you can self-correct this negative behavior. Keep reading for tips that will help you as well as others that might get you caught up in conversations littered with rumors and hearsay.
Why are you gossiping? Take a moment and check-in. Are you bored, lonely, jealous? Did the person you’re talking about wrong you in some way? Are you projecting? Maybe you need to have a conversation with this person and it’s just been too difficult to do so.
Understanding your why is far more helpful than you might think! If you understand your why, you’ll be able to adjust your behavior and habits. You may or may not know this, but to effectively break a bad habit, you need to not only break it but also replace it with another habit. To do that, you’re going to need to understand why you are gossiping, who you are gossiping about, and why that person gets this treatment.
Bond Over Something Else
As mentioned earlier, gossip is something that folks have used to not only bond over, but also to advance society – so it might be hard to lose this aspect of connection. Find common ground that isn’t gossip to bond over. It might be shared experiences, food, surroundings, hobbies – anything that isn’t about someone else. If you have to talk about someone else in your conversations, chances are you might be feeling bad about yourself in some way. Check in and talk about something else.
Stop Trying To Be Liked
I think a lot of gossip is linked to folks trying to be liked – the grim reality is folks that gossip about one person will probably gossip about another, and frankly the “others” might be you. We spend a lot of time being “likable” and worrying about that, and something that has always given me comfort is remembering that I’m not pizza, not everyone is going to like me. If I’m constantly focusing on who likes me and why, and making myself into someone else’s best ideal person, I’m going to be neglecting the person I want to be.
Go To the Source
Have some beef with another person and that’s why you’re gossiping? Take a beat and think about going directly to the person you’re talking about. Maybe you need to sort things out or maybe you feel like you’ve been wronged by something in the past. Take the time and energy to connect with that person and sort things out versus talking behind their back.
If you don’t want to sort things out? Drop it. What’s the point of letting someone live rent-free in your head, having them at the forefront of your thoughts so much that you have to talk about them all the time? Or immediately go to them as a subject when you have nothing else to talk about? That’s A LOT of energy on someone and something that you “don’t like.” Focus your energy on things you can change and do or projects you might have, versus thinking and overthinking about someone who “wronged” you in some way.