Confronting, Not Attacking, Gossip

Confronting, Not Attacking, Gossip


Why Gossiping is so Toxic

Never Believe Second-Hand Information like Gossip First

After being hurt by gossip in high school, I make sure to avoid it as much as possible as an adult. Whenever I hear someone say He said that she said or Someone told me this, I immediately stop listening. Heresay doesn’t hold up in court. Why should it hold up in your life? We all know the game of telephone. Word, motives, and ideas all get lost in translation. Gossip is not a sustainable form of communication. Things will get mixed up along the way.

Gossip, in general, is not a productive habit. One of my favorite sayings is: Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas.

If you spend your energy talking about other people, your mind will never grow.

Unfortunately, even if we never partake in gossip, others may still gossip about us. There are assertive but not aggressive ways to handle this situation. Most importantly, do not assume the gossip is actually true. Don’t attack someone or defend yourself solely based on gossip. You can simply frame a question in a non-threatening way to confront gossip directly without too many feelings getting hurt.

How To Confront Gossip And Avoid Drama

I’ve been friends with Vicky for several years. More recently she began declining my invitations then avoiding me altogether. One of our mutual friends said that Vicky was mad at me but didn’t give a reason. I feel hurt and confused because I lost a friend and don’t know why.

Don’t Say:
“Why are you mad at me?”
“So and so said you are mad at me, why?”
“Why aren’t we friends anymore?”
“I haven’t heard from you, did I do something wrong?”
“I know you’re mad at me but I didn’t do anything wrong.”

These questions and phrases all have the intent of either attacking your friend or being defensive. Either way, you’re assuming that the gossip you heard is true. Don’t do that.

Instead Say:
“I haven’t heard from you in a while and wanted to make sure you’re feeling okay. Is there anything going on that I can help with?”
“I miss spending time with you and your friendship is important to me. If you would like to talk, please let me know.”
“I hope you’re feeling okay. If you need anything, please remember that I’m here for you.”

You don’t actually know if she’s mad at you. You heard she was. But that is not a direct source. You don’t need to defend yourself. You also don’t need to attack your friend. Ask open ended questions for the person to be able to explain themselves and not feel threatened. Remember, even though you heard the rumor first, you need to believe the direct source and not the rumor. You really have no idea what is going on. Many times these are misunderstandings.

The same goes for the opposite, if you heard someone said something mean about you. Don’t sak, “Why did you say that? Why are you so mean?” Instead, bring it right to their attention. “I heard some things about you recently that were pretty hurtful. You are a good friend and if something is bothering you, I want us to talk about it.”

You can only control your reaction and your response. Sometimes, if the other person believes gossip about you, there just isn’t anything you can do.


2 Replies to “Confronting, Not Attacking, Gossip”

  1. GREAT alternate things to ask list. You really never know what’s been going on in someone’s life, even if you are close to them. It’s amazing how insidious comments can be, because when someone has even hinted that someone is mad, we tend to take it at face value.

    1. It’s human nature to think that we are responsible in situations like that but life is complicated! Providing support is the best solution. And then, even if the person is mad at you, they don’t feel on the defensive right away.

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