Did you know that the majority of people spend about an hour a day gossiping?!? That makes it pretty important to know and understand how to deal with gossip, especially if it’s directed at you!
If you wonder what gossip is and why people do it, you’ve come to the right place. Not only will we define 23 ways to deal with gossip, but we’ll look at the harm it can do to people if done with malicious intent.
Plus, I’ve compiled research, tips, and ideas on what to say to someone who is gossiping about you! If you want to improve your life by stopping gossip, you’ll find the right tips and tricks in this article. Enjoy the ride!
Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see. – Unknown
What is Gossip?
Cambridge Dictionary explains that gossip is talking about another person’s private life in an unkind, judgmental, or even false way. Some people find pleasure in gossip even though it’s a cruel thing to do, especially if the person is supposedly your friend.
The Urban Dictionary takes it one step further as it explains gossip in the following ways:
- Gossip occurs when you talk bad about a person when it’s really none of your business.
- Another way to look at gossip is as a nasty thing that people do for entertainment purposes, or because they have no life of their own to talk about. They may also be missing a conscience if they are spreading lies about someone else.
- Gossip is an exaggerated or completely fabricated story about someone not in the room (conversation). Often, gossip is spread maliciously to demean, slander, or tarnish the reputation of the person being discussed in the conversation.
Let me throw one more iron in the fire because it takes a different approach. Oxford English Dictionary says that gossip is a casual conversation about another person, often with details that have not been confirmed as being factual.
According to that definition, talk doesn’t have to be malicious to be considered gossip! Therefore, it is possible to have neutral or positive gossip. Does that make it okay to participate in it, though?
For the sake of this article, we are going to look at gossip from a negative point of view – as something we don’t want to be a part of!
As writer Joseph Conrad explained, “Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everyone enjoys!” Nicely put!
Why Do People Gossip?
People gossip for a lot of reasons. Some find it fun, interesting, and exciting. Others just want to know what’s going on; they are curious little bees. At work, gossip may be a nice distraction from the grind.
Usually, people who gossip have self-esteem issues; they may crave drama in their lives or get bored easily and find gossip quite entertaining. Some people believe that talking about everyone else fills the emptiness they are dealing with.
I never really understood why people insisted on talking about other people when those individuals weren’t there to defend themselves. I mean, are our lives so boring that we really need to talk about other people all the time?
While it’s true that gossip can be positive/neutral or at least have positive or neutral attributes, it can make us look bad. It looks like we need drama or attention to keep ourselves grounded. If that’s the case, we may have more serious problems going on than just gossip!
I know that we all want to be in on the secret; we want to know what the latest scoop is, even if we’d never admit to that, but gossiping can cause many problems for those we talk about!
People gossip. People are insecure, so they talk about other people so that they won’t be talked about. They point out flaws in other people to make them feel good about themselves. – Blake Lively
What Can Gossip Do?
Gossip can have serious negative consequences. It can make you feel powerless, insecure, helpless, and even hopeless. Also, gossip makes you feel angry, anxious, or possibly even confused.
- What changed in your friendship to cause this person to turn on you?
- Why are they bad-mouthing you when all you’ve done is good things to them?
- What are they saying behind your back?
- Who are they spreading gossip to that you know?
All of these are potentially perplexing questions that you’ll probably never get the answers to, which can make you very frustrated and impatient. Not understanding gossip or why it started can be very stressful, especially at school or the office, where you have to see these people every single day!
Along with causing all the negative results mentioned above, gossip can ruin your reputation, destroy your relationships, prevent you from moving up the corporate ladder, and destroy morale, especially at the office when multiple people are involved.
I know that it is hard to shake gossip, as it’s nearly impossible to let things go and forgive the person spreading rumors about you, but you’ll have to get past it if you want to move on with your life.
Words spoken can never be recalled. – Wentworth Dillon
The Fear of Gossip at Work
I once had an amazingly productive and positive relationship with an assistant of mine. Treating her with respect, giving her assignments she wanted, and engaging her on a personal level, I thought things were going great! Then, one day, for no apparent reason, she began hating me, throwing papers at me, and storming off whenever she was around me!
I found this bizarre behavior to be out of character for her, so I did ask her if she was upset about something, if there was something we could discuss, or if we needed to bring things to our manager’s attention. Nothing came of it, and I never got an answer as to what she was so upset about. Her bad attitude went on for at least a year until I left the company!
Clearly, things changed in our great relationship, but I never had an answer as to what went wrong in the first place. I always assumed it involved some kind of gossip. However, that was decades ago, so I never received the answer I was looking for. Often, when we don’t have answers to things that confuse us, we dwell on them, making matters worse.
Gossip can cause frustration and stress like this. It can even cause you to lose the motivation to continue working so hard at school, work, or life, in general. This article will pinpoint some great ways to overcome or get over gossip so that you can manage your life in a positive way!
Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas. – Marie Curie
How to Deal with Gossip (23 Awesome Ways to Win)
#1. Try to understand the motivation behind the gossip.
Remember that people who feel the need for gossip usually have self-esteem problems. I know many people who enjoy negative gossip; they think that talking about other people is entertaining, and interesting news piques their curiosity. They hear something juicy, and they just have to share this information with anyone who will listen!
Unfortunately, most people are friends with like-minded people, so when the gossipers have juicy gossip to share, their friends are more than happy to hear all about it! More often than not, the “friends” receiving the information will “contribute” to the conversation by making additional remarks about the person being spoken about!
Sometimes, if you try to understand why people are gossiping, it can ease the blow. Ask yourself the following questions and try to understand the motivation behind the gossip. If you realize that it’s not about you, and it’s instead just a need they seem to think they have, it may make you feel better.
- Do you think they might be insecure?
- How often have you heard them gossip?
- Do you think they need drama in their lives?
- Do they seem to find gossip fulfilling?
- Is the issue really with you, or do you think they just need someone to talk about?
- Could they just be jealous of you?
- Do they just like the attention they get from having something interesting to talk about?
Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up? – Sean Covey
#2. Realize how bad gossiping makes people look.
Surely at some point in your life, you’ve heard someone talking about other people, making you wonder why they feel the need to gossip. You probably thought that they were very insecure, saying these things. Being a gossip is petty, immature, and not the smartest move if you want to maintain lasting friendships.
Remember what you think of someone the next time you hear gossip. If you have a friend who enjoys talking bad about people behind their back, realize that they are probably doing this exact thing regarding you. They may gossip about you when you aren’t around, so watch what you reveal when you are together!
If you feel that gossip is a problem in your life, that people are talking bad about you behind your back, remember how stupid and petty they are acting by doing this, and you’ll feel better. Plus, if you know the person is “a gossip,” don’t forget that this is just part of their personality; your friend is a gossip; it’s not a personal attack!
Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks. – Shannon L. Alder
#3. Be as patient and understanding as you can be.
This advice is tough to follow because who can be calm when people are bad-mouthing you? It hurts!
You might have terrible insecure thoughts running through your head, filling your mind with things that may not even be true. In other words, you might be thinking things are worse than they even are!
Practice patience and understanding when gossiping is afoot. Find your inner calm by practicing mindfulness exercises, meditating, or doing yoga – anything that will give you peace!
Grab a prayer journal and talk to God about your concerns. Ask Him to please provide you with peace and patience during this difficult time.
#4. Think about it from a different point of view.
Sometimes, if you change your mindset, you will feel 100% better in no time! Think of it like this: I know that people are talking about me, but that just means that I am popular. They are probably thinking positive things about me, so I should just be flattered that I am on their minds.
Do you see the difference that changing the negative to a positive can make? Just doing that can cause you to be calmer and less worried about what other people think of you!
Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude. – Joyce Meyer
#5. Don’t let gossip get to you.
Remember to de-identify from the circumstances that are causing someone to bad-mouth you. It’s usually not about you at all! Instead, it is actually about the insecurity, anxiety, and nervousness another person feels about themselves or their placement in the workplace.
They believe if they tear you down, they will look better. In a way, they are trying to protect themselves. Though they could make themselves temporarily look better, it won’t last. People will see right through them, and they will actually make themselves look worse in the long run!
I know it’s easier said than done, but it really is a smart idea to just let it go. Don’t allow gossip to bother you; if you do, the bullies win! Right?
Instead, take a deep breath, tell yourself that you are letting it go, and move on with your day. Don’t let anyone affect how you feel about yourself. They aren’t worth it; wouldn’t you agree?
Not letting gossip bother you seems to be one of the best ways to make it stop, too. If you aren’t reinforcing people with negative feedback (crying, insulting them back, or showing anger), they’ll usually quit talking about you because it’s no longer fun!
Remember, you can’t control what other people say about you, but you can control your reaction to what is said about you. Learn to just “take it with a grain of salt.”
Don’t allow gossip to shift your mood in any way. It’s not easy and won’t be done overnight, but with time and practice, you can brush off gossip with ease!
How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same. – Steve Maraboli
#6. Don’t contribute to the gossip!
As mentioned, there is no need to provide the gossipers with ammunition. If you show you are bothered by the gossip, they’ll just want to keep doing that behavior. Don’t give them anything to talk about, and more importantly, don’t join in gossip just to be popular. It’s like a disease; prevent gossip from spreading by not participating in it.
If you are around gossipers all the time, I can completely relate! I’ve found that most people like talking about others; gossip keeps things interesting. However, I’d rather talk about myself or the other person in the conversation, not someone else.
I think gossip is unproductive. It’s not usually helpful to anyone, except to show us what others are really made of. If you hear a co-worker talking bad about a new employee, you know they probably said the same things when you were a new worker!
So, what’s the point of gossip? Why do we feel the need to join in when our co-workers talk about someone else? Let’s stop it!
Here are a few suggestions on things to say if you choose not to participate in gossip.
While that [the gossip] may be true, I’d rather let our boss decide the merit of that information.
Sorry to interrupt, but [this gossip] is making me uncomfortable, and I want to be in a healthy working environment.
#7. Use emotional intelligence to win!
Emotional intelligence is the art of recognizing and managing emotions – those in you and those in other people. If you can calmly handle negative situations like gossiping, you avoid making things worse. That’s where emotional intelligence comes into play.
Before you react, think about your emotions. Don’t forget that you cannot control what other people say about you. You can only control the way you react to events; you can control your emotions. Just recognize what you are feeling and deal with that feeling directly.
The Serenity Prayer asks God to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. When facing a tough ordeal like gossip, just recite this prayer and notice how your attitude improves and positive feelings emerge.
You can also use stress-relieving techniques to refocus your energy to be positive. Some great calming strategies include meditation, prayer, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and mindfulness.
Make or use a prayer journal to record your thoughts and emotions regularly.
#8. Be empathetic.
Empathy is the art of realizing, understanding, and even experiencing the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of another person without having to communicate them directly. In other words, empathy occurs when you put yourself in another person’s shoes. Try to see their side of things if at all possible.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are they spreading gossip?
- How is gossiping benefiting them?
- Is there any truth to the rumors?
- Do they make any valid points?
#9. Ignore the gossip.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received in response to gossip is to ignore it. If you can just give it time, gossip will usually pass, and the person spreading gossip will get bored of talking about you.
One easy way to ignore gossip is to stay super busy – too busy to care about what other people say about you. Stay focused, take on new projects, or dedicate yourself to providing more quality work in your life and on the job.
Unless there’s some merit to what is being said about you, you can just ignore it and move on with your new busy task. Even though our minds think so much faster than our bodies can do tasks, you can still distract yourself enough to forget about this problem.
Plus, usually, since gossip is false or unimportant in life, you can ignore this issue without having any repercussions. Think, “whatever,” when you hear gossip, roll your eyes, and change your thoughts to be something positive you have going on.
If gossip is an ongoing problem at your workplace, just give it time. Wait it out, and usually, it will just pass on its own.
If not, you may have to take administrative action with your supervisor.
#10. Practice gratitude.
Too often, we focus on the negative rumors about us rather than the positive things that people say to or about us. We forget about the compliments and accomplishments. We ignore the great things we’ve done and the goals we’ve accomplished.
Really, when you stop to think about it, there is probably more good than bad happening in your life right now. We just forget to be thankful for everything wonderful in our lives. Use a gratitude journal to count your blessings each day.
Being grateful will help you think more positively and realize the great things you have going for you. When negativity rears its ugly head, you can just push it aside with positivity.
If you think you have it bad or need some additional encouragement, you should consider doing volunteer work, helping those in need, or contributing back to society. When you see how bad other people have it, you will see the blessings you have in your life much clearer.
Plus, when you do good for others, you will feel better about yourself. People’s nasty rumors about you can’t take that away from you!
No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues. – Bertrand Russell
#11. Think about the bigger picture.
Focus on your accomplishments, goals, and future success. Think about what you’re aiming for in life. Don’t allow a few negative remarks to derail your plans!
You are still the same bright, competent person you were before the gossip occurred. No one can change what you are made up of or what you think about yourself – if you don’t let them.
In other words, don’t let anything, especially not gossip, shake your confidence. Snap out of the negative mindset and think positively about yourself and your life.
#12. Easily forgive others.
Forgiveness can do many positive things for you. First, showing compassion can build your self-esteem and make you proud of who you are. Second, according to science, forgiveness can benefit you more than the person you are forgiving. Third, forgiveness can help lighten your step and improve your health and well-being.
After forgiving someone, the way you feel can bring you peace and harmony – a calmness to your soul. Also, you can forgive someone without saying a word to them. Just do it in your mind. They don’t usually need to know that they’ve upset you through their words.
#13. Do some self-reflection.
If you think that there is some truth to the gossip, you might want to listen carefully to what is being said about you. Is there something you need to change or work on? Is it time to do some self-improvement?
Think about what goes through your head when you talk about other people. Do you spread lies, or is it all the truth? If there is truth being said about you, what can you do to make people change their minds about you?
You might not even care what other people think or say about you. If that’s the case, good for you! However, if something is being mentioned that you need to work on, you might consider some self-improvement.
If someone says that you have bad body odor and there’s truth to that statement, switch deodorants or see a doctor! You can use gossip as a tool to let you know what you may need to work on about yourself.
Make sure it’s legitimate concerns before making any changes, though! It’s certainly true that most gossip is malicious in nature and often untrue, so be a good judge of what is true and warrants concern and what should be ignored!
Gossip is when you have a malice of intent or mindless, third-party conversation to someone about someone, something you haven’t said to that someone. – Iyanla Vanzant
#14. Turn the gossip into a motivator.
This suggestion may sound crazy, but you’ll see how useful it can be if you try it! You can use gossip to properly motivate yourself, prove to yourself and others that you are not what they are saying, creatively come up with solutions to problems you are facing, and find a renewed energy for your life.
Look at it as a fresh start. When people are bad-mouthing you, they just have low self-esteem; it really has little to do with you and more to do with them. Take this opportunity to get your rear in gear and accomplish the many goals on your bucket list!
#15. Be as kind and respectful as you can be.
Believe it or not, I read that being a good person (someone kind to everyone and respectful of other people) can help you when it comes to gossip. People don’t want to talk about someone who everyone loves on any occasion. What fun is that?
Of course, this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it can help ward off the bullies. If you are kind to other people, they don’t generally have a reason to talk bad about you behind your back. Some people still will – they’ll either make something up or just find a way to turn your kindness into a negative trait.
However, it’s certainly worth a try, right? Why not be a sweet, caring person who everyone loves? I would think that would decrease the gossip quite a bit! There is no ammunition for their weapons, so they may have to get creative if they want to bad-mouth you!
If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. – Aesop
#16. Ask for help and clarity from your allies.
Since self-improvement might be one of the things you might need to do if someone is gossiping about you, you should make sure it’s valid information. One way to do this is to enlist the help of your support group – your friends and family!
Ask them if there is any merit to the things being said about you. Is there something they agree you need to change about yourself? I find this technique to be very helpful!
Even as an adult, I find people gossip about me! I don’t know why or what the purpose of that gossip is, but when it happens, I often ask my husband or friends if there is any truth to it to find out if there is something I need to change about myself. The majority of the time, it’s all rumors with no truth to them!
#17. Don’t show that the gossip is getting to you.
Remember that often, people who gossip or bully you want to get a negative response from you. Don’t show them that their backstabbing is bothering you. That way, they will know that what they say cannot hurt you or break your spirit!
They are bullies! They want to make you upset. It might be that they probably want negative attention from you and possibly from others! Don’t give them what they want!
Stay busy; follow the other suggestions in this article, and just don’t let it get to you.
If you do your best to do these things, you’ll feel much better about the situation!
#18. Realize you are not alone.
Most people at some point in their lives have experienced the feeling of being talked about negatively. Don’t think that the world is out to get just you. We’ve all been there, but I’m sure that many people have a harder time than others.
I don’t know where I fall on the gossip/bully spectrum since I’ve been on both sides of the game. Like any human, I tend to talk about other people – both negatively and positively – from time to time. I certainly try not to, though!
I remember in grade school, I had one friend on the phone while talking to another friend, using call-waiting to switch between calls. I was bad-mouthing one of the girls to the other one and accidentally said the wrong thing to the person I was gossiping about! That was pretty humiliating and made me feel horrible!
#19. Be resilient.
I love the saying: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!” Remember that when you face trials or challenges like gossip, you are experiencing the “downs” that come with life. The “ups” will come at some point in life.
Life may not hand you what you want at first, but sooner or later, things will turn around. Just have faith that everything will work out the way it is meant to.
Knowing that this feeling is temporary can truly help you as you go through a myriad of feelings about gossip! If you maintain a positive attitude like this, life will be more manageable!
Related: Celebrate Recovery Serenity Prayer
#20. Cool off before reacting.
It’s easy and natural to explode and confront the person gossiping about you, but don’t do it. If you have a hot temper, try to cool off before deciding how you will respond (or not respond) to this.
Often, if you just give it time and wait before reacting, a better solution (better than your initial response) will come along. It may not be what you want to do, but it can be the best way to solve the problem.
For example, if you took a two-hour lunch instead of a normal one and someone told your boss, you might want to jump down their throat! Don’t get me wrong; I never reacted like that! Ha!
So, what is a better solution?
While that may not specifically be “gossip,” it is still two people talking about you behind your back. Instead of ripping your co-worker’s head off, just let it go or politely ask them not to divulge the amount of time you take for lunch to another person if they know.
Better yet, don’t let them find out! That way, there is gossip to share about you!
Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to. – Unknown
#21. Decide carefully if you need to take action.
Often, our first instinctive response to gossip is to confront the person who is talking bad about us. However, this is usually not the best solution. Just keep your feelings private and choose your friends and words wisely when conversing with others. Keep certain things private.
If you run to the gossiper and tell them how upset you are, you are likely just giving them ammunition for the next time they decide to gossip about you! Think of a co-worker saying, “You’ll never guess what Susan said to me….”
#22. Be too busy to care what other people think of you.
If you keep a full schedule and your mind is going in a million different directions, you won’t care at all what other people think of you because you’ll be moving on to your next project soon. You are just too busy to care about such drama!
#23. Involve someone higher up the food chain!
Whether you are discussing the gossip with your boss or praying to God, involving a third party can be helpful, especially if they have the power to put an end to it. Be careful that you don’t talk to your boss about every trivial little thing, though. You don’t want to make a big deal out of nothing.
Be careful not to overreact because that could make things worse, and you certainly don’t want that. If someone at the office is spreading vicious lies about you that affect your ability to do your job, it’s understandable to involve a superior.
How to Confront Someone About Gossip
If you do decide to talk to the person who is spreading gossip about you, here are a few tips:
- Do not be confrontational in your tone, body language, or words.
- Try to change their point of view of you, but realize this is unlikely.
- Be sympathetic of opinion and viewpoint; empathy is your friend.
- Ask them politely to stop spreading rumors about you.
Here are a couple of suggestions on things to say to someone who is gossiping.
Look. I realize I’ve gotten your attention lately. I just wanted you to know if you have any questions or concerns about me, you can just talk to me directly.
Hey, I’m sure you meant no harm by it, but word has gotten around to me that I’m a topic of conversation for you. If you want to talk, I’m happy to answer your questions or talk about anything bothering you.
Is there a problem that we should discuss? Can I help you in some way?
I must reiterate that this should be a last resort, as it usually doesn’t work. It will typically have the opposite effect, causing the person to talk about you more. Give it a shot if you think the person is open-minded and willing to change their view of you.
Remember, if you are involved in workplace gossip or workplace rumors from your colleagues, you may want to speak to your manager or supervisor, especially if office gossip is causing your job performance to suffer.
Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around. – Frank A. Clark
What to Do If You Gossip
Of course, I’m going to recommend you stop gossiping. You might have to do this a little bit at a time if you are a chronic gossiper. It might help to figure out why you feel the need to gossip about someone.
Are you jealous? What do they have that you want? Is gossip entertaining? Is there something else you could talk about that is also exciting?
Don’t join in if someone else is gossiping about someone you know. Have ethics and integrity and take personal responsibility for yourself.
If you are in a position where you can’t just walk away from gossip, don’t listen to it and change the subject when you get a chance. If you must say something, be positive in your remarks!
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Now that you have read this article, you should know:
- What Gossip Is
- Why People Gossip
- The Damage Gossip Can Cause
- How to Deal with Gossip (23 Ways)
- How to Confront Someone About Gossip
- What to Do If You Gossip
Now, I want to hear from you! What is the true definition of gossip in your book? Why do you think people gossip?
Have you ever been hurt by gossip? How did you deal with it? What did you do about gossip?
Please leave a comment! It would really help me out if you’d spread this article along, sharing it on social media! My hope is that you’ve learned some great information today and will not talk about people behind their backs or at least will reconsider doing so!
Your dignity can be mocked, abused, compromised, toyed with, lowered, and even badmouthed, but it can never be taken from you. You have the power today to reset your boundaries, restore your image, start fresh with renewed values and rebuild what has happened to you in the past. – Shannon L. Alder