"Okay, so I heard - and I know it's true because she KNOWS . . ."
"I don't know for SURE if this is true, but I think it is, that . . . ."
"Okay so she told me that this other girl told HER that she actually saw . . ."
Sound familiar? And as soon as those words are out of somebody's mouth, everybody else is leaning in -- eyes popping, EARS popping -- ready to hear the latest -- yes, you guessed it -- GOSSIP. This may be the bajillionth time the story's been told, but you gotta know that each time, it's gotten juicier and longer and a whole lot more false.
We're probably all guilty of either spreading gossip or listening to it , and because it's a common flaw among women, both mini- and adult, we don't often stop to think about what happens because of it:
* Lies are spread. Not good.
* The person being talked about gets her feelings WAY hurt
* Some people actually believe the rumor is true, and the girl they talk about gets a reputation she doesn't deserve
* Girls have even had to change schools because of rumors spread about them -- by their own friends
Obviously, this is a flub that has to be fixed, and here's how, step by step:
(1) Find out if the "news" is true by going straight to the girl being talked about and ask her, or just use common sense.If rumor has it that Mary's mother has been married sixteen times, I mean, come ON . .
(2) If the answer is NO, it isn't true, then just STOP IT right there. Don't say another word about it and encourage other people in that loop to do the same. Find something else to talk about -- baby seals, the Jonas brothers, fractions . . . whatever it takes to get away from the topic of Alice making all Fs in her last school, which she DIDN'T Hello!
(3) If the answer is YES, ask yourself: Will it help the person being talked about if I tell this to someone else? Is it going to do any good if everybody knows Susie has an extra toe?
(4) If the answer is NO, it won't help her, STOP IT right there. Just because it's true doesn't mean everybody on the planet need to hear about it and talk about it until it gets all warped and twisted. If it's going to embarrass her, hurt her, or betray her trust, what's the point?
(5) If the answer is YES, it would help her if you told someone, tell the RIGHT PERSON, usually an adult you can trust with the information. If she's throwing her lunch away every day because she thinks she's fat, you and your friends can't help her. -- but maybe your mom, or her mom, or the school counselor can. And once you confide in them, of course, button your lip. This is private stuff about your friend, something you wouldn't want her to share at the lunch table if it were happening to you.
And here's one more thing about gossip. If people gossipTO you, they'll probably also gossip ABOUT you. A person who gossips can't keep a secret. So don't BE the person who can't be trusted. Don't start gossip. Don't listen to it. Don't repeat it. No matter how delicious that conversation might be and how important it might make you feel.
James tells us in the Bible, "It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke, and go up in smoke with it." (James 3:5-6, The Message)
Yeah . . . that's what I'M talkin' about. If YOU want to talk about it, feel free to post. Let's help each other stop the rumor tumor.