The Negative Stories of Gossip in Which We Tell

I have had this rumor following me for the last two years. I became aware of it after an incident at a MOPs group. But if we want to really be honest it started when I rejected someone’s friendship 14 months prior. The rumor just really amped up in sharing after that interaction at MOPs.

I’ve heard this rumor it a few times. Each time it was so ambiguous that you couldn’t really tell what the sayers of this rumor really meant to say. The just of what I’ve heard (from those who’ve heard it and approached me about it) is that “I have a bad reputation” and for others to “watch out”. Ambiguous right? Instead of using my platform to address the rumor or defend myself. I want to educate you as a person on the stories of negative gossip that we as friends and women tell each other.

Let's stop for a moment and think about it. When we're approached with a negative story about someone else, who are you more likely to believe? Are you more likely to believe the person you’re hearing it from or the person that is being talked about? 98% of the time we believe the person who tells us. Why do we do that? For a few reasons:

  1. We tend to have a strong negativity bias. Almost all of us pay more attention to negative information than we do to positive information about someone, it's human nature.
  2. Because we have an unspoken trust with the person who is telling us. We typically know this person so we assume that their heart is pure in telling us this story. If you’ve done this, it’s okay because I am sure at some point in my life I have done this as well.
    As I stopped listening to the gossip I was able to:
    • Gain clarity on their intentions
    • Choose how to react
    • Make a decision on if I wanted to judge someone off of third-party information or not. 

What I’ve discovered over the years after many therapy sessions, reading books about shame, and having friends are the following items:

KNOW WHERE THEY GOT THEIR INFORMATION: 

  • Do they actually know both parties? Are they one of the parties?
  • Were any of them witness to the problem and the resolution?

KNOW THEIR INTENTIONS:

  • Why is your friend telling you this? Are they telling you this because they know that you are open to hearing it? When we remain open to hearing other’s gossip we betray the confidence with the Lord. God calls us to love others without stopping to inquire if they are worthy enough.
  • If what they are saying is negative ask, is their heart hurting? 95% of the time the person willing to negatively speak about someone is hurting. When your friend starts to trash someone about “what the other person did” stop and ask them questions. Questions like:

    • “What is hurting you so badly?”

    • “Did this person do something to deserve your wrath?”

    • “Was your offer and intent for a friendship rejected?”

    • “Is your heart hurting because they ended the friendship?”

    • "If your friendship never went south would you be saying these things?"
       

  • Are they trying to “save” you from trouble? The other 5% of the time there is the woman who is trying to be the “hero” and save others. This person may not:

    • know the whole situation, be involved in the situation

    • have knowledge of resolution.

This person will continue to serve and “warn” or try to “save” others from the person. Mainly because her associates or friends were hurt by the other party involved, not because they know what happened. Typically, these are the ones who do the most damage to their community. Why do I say that? Because they do not know what they are really trying to “save” someone from.

KNOW IT'S NOT ACTUALLY HOW THEY SAY IT IS

  • There are 3 sides to the story that they are telling you. Your friends version, the other party version, and what God saw.
  • If your friend was a good friend of the other party typically the one speaking negatively or out to set fire to someone else is the hurt one. Whether it is unintentionally or intentionally they are trying to retaliate to hurt the other party because they are hurt.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If you’re the one hearing the negative story about someone you have a few things that you will need to decide on how you will handle it.

  • Are you going to allow these negative words become your facts about someone you don't know?
  • Are you going to forward this information that you were told?
  • Are you going to allow your negative bias influence you?
  • Are you going to treat the other party differently?
  • Are you going to say something to your friend?
  • Are you going to allow this person to continue to speak negative things in front of you?
  • You can ask your friend to solve the problem that they have with the other person instead of continuing to breed negativity. 
 
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We as women should hold each other to a higher standard when we witness other women negatively gossip about other women. We should not allow other women to intentionally set fire to someone else's reputation because they feel like it or because they are hurting. We should stop it and we as women should also not lean into our own negative bias. Most importantly, we should not judge someone we do not know off of the negative comments from someone else. Each person is here to teach you something that you do not know and because each person serves as gifts and lessons in our lives, by allowing our own personal opinion get into the way only delays the gift or lesson. 

Proverbs 20:10: A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. // Talking about others betrays your confidence with them, your confidence with the Lord and the person you are speaking to.

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JUSIKA MARTINEZ

The wife of a traveling Airman, Mom to 3 rambunctious girls and 3 baby angels. She often writes about faith, trauma, womanhood, motherhood, and her journey through therapy after a near-death experience. She believes in purpose, mediation, and that yoga can fix anything. After striving for the #perfectlife she finds her self-believing that the curated life can lead to false happiness, lack of authenticity and a false sense of security.