Gossip. I was approached with a question yesterday about what gossip really is. What qualifies as gossip? Being a group discussion I of course heard the tired "talking behind someones back" and "a group of women huddled in a circle after church"... people, people, people, that is not gossip. Talking about other people behind there back is not gossip. It is my hope that if I have talked about you to someone else when you're not there and you two finally meet, it will sound something like "Amy has told me so much about you, I feel like I already know you and love you!". A group of women circled around to talk is called communication and it is vital to the growth and maintenance of relationships.
So what is gossip? Sadly, this one I have had so much experience with that I have the answer down pat. Gossip is talking in a negative way about someone not present, using words and phrases that you would not say to their face. There you have it. Talking about something negative that happened between you and another person is not gossip if you have had the discussion with that other person. In other words, you cannot accuse someone of gossiping about you if they are making you look bad because you did something mean, cruel, catty, or rude and they told someone else about it. Note to self... behave better. On the flip side if you are purposefully telling only negative things about someone or repeating negative things that you have heard, that is gossip. If you have never met... you really shouldn't be saying or hearing anything negative about them period. This is of course why I strongly believe that 90% of all mass media newscasts are gossip. They are simply telling you the ugliest, nastiest things that happened that day involving people you have never met who have no way of telling their side of the story and if you have ever been involved in an event that made the news you can attest to how inaccurately most of it is reported.
The overall point of this memo is this... if you cannot say it to their face... don't say it at all. When you talk about other people keep your words positive and uplifting of their character. People are relational and will (and should) talk, so give them something to talk about (clearly I practice what I preach on this one!) but remember that you are the one deciding what they will have to work with. Do not be afraid to speak the truth but make sure that if it is negative, you are saying it only to people who know the situation and are involved or it is just gossip.
Disclaimer: all of the above statements are made under the assumption that what you are saying is true. If you are lying, it doesn't matter if it is positive or negative... because it's a lie... get it?!
*steps off soap box and poses for photos