Gossip may be defined as any form of communication that harms another. It can ruin lives, assassinate reputations, split families, alienate friends and destroy businesses. On the other hand, a gossip-free environment leads to peaceful lives, healthier relationships, and overall prosperity. Yes, the gift of speech is a marvelous one, depending upon how it is used. Would you like your words to soothe instead of sting? Heal instead of hurt? And build instead of burn? Following these ten pathways will help:
Click on a TAB to find more information about each Pathways.
Speak No Evil. Say only positive statements. Let words of kindness be on your tongue. This means to respond instead of react. And, even, to edit your speech before you speak.
Hear No Evil. Refuse to listen to gossip, slander and other negative forms of speech. Hint: If avoiding the conversation is impossible, have another topic of “positive” interest you can quickly bring up in order to change the subject.
Don’t Rationalize Destructive Speech. Excuses like “But it’s true” or “I’m only joking” or “I can tell my spouse anything” just don’t cut it. Gossip is gossip, anyway you cut it. Besides, the fact that it is true is what qualifies it as gossip. If it were not true, it would be libel or slander.
See No Evil. Judge people favorably, the way you would want them to judge you. If you’ve ever been accused of doing something for which you know you were innocent, then you know how it feels to be misjudged. Remember, if you weren’t there, you don’t know. And, even if you were, you may have missed what actually happened in context.
Beware of Speaking Evil Without Saying An Evil Word. Body language, and even positive speech, can bring tremendous destruction. Yes, telling someone you know takes advantage of others’ kindness that a particular person will give you “the shirt off his back,” although it seems like positive speech, is not an act of kindness.
Be Humble; Avoid Arrogance. These will be your greatest weapons against destructive speech. As Rabbi Noah Weinberg teaches, “Take pleasure in your accomplishments, not pride.” This way you recognize the Ultimate Source of your accomplishments. And those who are arrogant are so filled with themselves, there is no room for their Creator in their lives.
Beware Of Repeating Information. Loose lips sink ships. Even positive information needs permission before being repeated. Telling someone who’s out of a job that your mutual friend, Julie, got a raise, does not constitute proper speech.
Honesty Really Is The Best Policy—Most of the Time. Be careful to always tell the truth unless it will hurt others, break your own privacy or publicize your accomplishments. Strive for honesty in everything you do. But if it’s between honesty and unnecessarily hurting another’s feelings, it’s better not to be so truthful. Those who boast about being “brutally honest” are usually more brutal than honest.
Learn to Say, “I’m Sorry.” Everyone makes mistakes. If you’ve spoken badly about someone, clear it up immediately. It might be embarrassing, but get it over with quickly. Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and let him or her know it won’t happen again.
Forgive. If you have been wronged, let it go. Forgive for your sake, if not for theirs. Those who can forgive live healthier, happier, and less stressful lives. Those who say they’ll forgive but not forget are actually saying that they’ll neither forgive nor forget.
Try this for the next month. The good news is, if you slip up now and then, it only means you are human. Try again. I congratulate you simply for making the effort.