Gossip, hmmm! Don’t we all get ourselves involved in it? Truth be told sometimes, we all want to know the ugly tit bits about our friends, neighbors, colleagues etc. To put this in its rightful perspective, WHAT IS GOSSIP? Gossip according to WIKIPEDIA is idle talk or rumour about the personal or private affairs of others. It is the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander.The Hebrew word translated the word “gossip” in Old Testament as one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.
A gossip then is a person who has priviledged information about someone or something and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossips share information in two ways, through INTENT and TYPE OF INFORMATION SHARED. Sharing information through intent way means that the sharer often have the goal of building up herself by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge. The second way of sharing information involve the shearer of information speaking of the faults and failings of others or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still a gossip. The Bible is replete with warnings of spreading unsolicited information about people.
Leviticus 19 v 16 says, “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. James 1 v 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself/herself and his/her religion is worthless. Matt 12 v 36-37, “Men will give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned”. If you are a woman then I believe it is pretty safe to say that you at least once in your life entertained the thought of joining in or have actually participated in gossip. Some of us have been clever enough to mask it as a prayer or concern, haven’t we? But we have all learned right? Because after some of us gave our lives to Christ, saying things we are not sure of became a thing of the past ( I hope?) So what do we do when we are around those who haven’t?
1. Speak positively about the person who is being targeted
When someone becomes the focus of the conversation and is being projected in a negative light, speaking positive things about the person will usually cool down the heated discussion. Something as simple as, ‘Ngozi? Oh, I just love the dress she wore at the last PTA. Don’t you? This can give you control of the conversation.
2. When you are approached by someone who is known to be a gossip try to be the one to start the conversation.
Some people still have a difficult time overcoming the battle of gossiping. When you are being approached by such a person it helps greatly, if you set the tone for the discussion. Don’t allow the person to ever start the conversation.
3. Be upfront about your convictions toward gossip.
Sometimes you just have to know when to speak up. If you are constantly bombarded with gossip from a particular group of friends or a specific person then let them know that you have a hard time hearing things that you have no business knowing. Don’t be judgmental towards them but let them know where you stand. (Hmmmmm!)
Try something like this: Ladies, I ‘m sorry. I know I ‘v participated in these discussions many times but I just can’t anymore. It is bad for me, bad for you, and it isn’t good for those we are talking about. Let’s just change the conversation because these people aren’t here to defend themselves and if you don’t want to change the conversation then I’ll be happy to walk away while you all talk to each other about it. (This I will really like to see!)
4. Redirect the conversation.
There are some ladies who are good at redirecting a conversation. I honestly think that in their spare time of their life, they think of things to say to redirect a discussion gone sour. In the middle of gisting you can say or hear someone say, ‘Well did you see what Jumoke wore to church on Sunday?’ she interjects and says, ‘Oh forget that! Let me tell you what I experienced with my bra the other day…’ and of course, she regains control of the room. No one is interested to know about Jumoke anymore and the mishap with the bra pinching up the back of her blouse as she walks through Shoprite brings lots of laughter.
We can make a point of duty to pray before meeting up with a group of friends and we can also make a point to pray as soon as all of our friends arrive at the gathering. Speaking words through prayers such as: “Father, help us to keep our conversation pure, lovely and of good report’, are often all you need to prevent a friendly gathering from getting ugly. If you can’t do that or if it is forgotten, praying silently helps to purge your heart and requests for God to intervene.
I know we have all been targets of gossip, I have had and still having my own share of it, but you know we have most likely all been sharers of the so called “juicy morsels”, With that said lets remember that no one is perfect and we can’t expect them to be. The person we can attempt to control is ourselves. If you work to change yourself in this area then you will not have saved your soul from negative words but you could very well be a shining example to your friends