For as long as I can remember, I hated gossip. I don't really know why, because I never had any negative experiences with it myself. I guess it's just that slandering a person while they're not there to defend themselves seemed like very cowardly behavior to me. Which is a little bit of a harsh judgment, I know. But that's how I felt about it. There's a lot of normal social behavior that I didn't see the value of in the past.
So when someone came up to me with the latest gossip, the situation usually turned into real bummer for that person. I would often interrupt the gossipper and say "Listen, I don't want to hear about it. If you have a problem with someone, you should fix it by talking to them, not me. And if you're just trying to talk shit, I don't think that's a very nice thing to do."'
After a while I realized I wasn't being very nice to these people myself. So I stopped judging them for their gossiping. And instead I just focused on not doing it myself. I made it a point to never talk about other people in a negative way. And if I really wanted to vent my frustration, I just left out their names and focused on my feelings when talking about it.
These past few months though, I've noticed something cool. I never planned to, but I've actually become an avid gossipper myself. Almost every time I am with a group of friends, I catch myself talking behind people's back.
But whenever I realize I'm doing it, I also notice that I'm saying things like "Have you seen Pete lately? He's really doing great. I love how he's improving at X or Y." or "Now that we're talking about Lisa, she is such an amazing person! I'm very happy to know her."
Sometimes I'll even catch myself being one of those rude people who point at someone and start whispering to their friend about them. But then when I actually listen to what I'm saying it will be something like "That dress suits her so well." , "I love how happy that guy looks." or "If you ever need an anti-flatulence blanket for when your girlfriend sleeps over, the ones in that store are just amazing!!!"
I have no clue when or where I picked up this habit. But doing it makes me feel really good. And I invite you to try it some time. Especially if you enjoy gossipping.
What's the benefit for you?
Nothing. And that's why I like it so much! You can't do it to get something from someone, because the person you're talking about won't even know you're complimenting them. All you're doing is making the world a little nicer in your own small way. And we could always use more of that 🙂
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