Monday, November 12, 2012

Walking Away from Gossip

“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

This quote arrived in my email inbox today along with several others in a motivational quotes email that I recieve once a week.  Most of the quotes are you typical Oprah-esque seize the day sorts of thing but this one caught my attention.  It wasn't the part about speaking only good of other nor was it the part about encourage others to do so, though both are admirable actions to pursue.  It was the part about walking away.

I can think of many times that I was present when someone else was being talked about; not a first hand account of an experience, but passed on third or fourth hand gossip and because I didn't actively participate I could pat myself on the back and shine up my halo.  What if I had walked away?  What if instead of appearing complicit through my silence I asked that we talk about something else?

It isn't an easy thing to do.  There is a bit of a thrill that goes along with thinking you are the carrier of some juicy bit of someone's private life not to mention the part of us that somehow feels better about ourselves when we hear of someone else's problems or sins.  Most of us are at least mildly insecure and so knowing that someone else might have screwed up worse that us can make us feel least until we find out that its our faults and mistakes that are being gossiped about.

And the fact is that we almost never know the whole story when it comes to other people's lives and passing on half truths eventually leads to quarter truths and finally what is being shared might very well be an outright lie.  A number of years ago I ran into an old high school classmate who was surprised to see me because she'd heard I'd been shot while mountain biking through Mexico.  While I was somewhat flattered to be thought so adventurous I was left wondering how many other people had the mistaken idea that I dead?

What if we just declared a boycott on gossip and refused to participate?  Or what if we offered up something positive about the person instead?  How would your life be different if you walked away?

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