Something To Talk About

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

If you know people are talking about a friend of yours behind her back, do you tell her?  Or do you talk to the people who are gossiping or….both?

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

“Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.” Joseph Conrad

Whenever I think of the word “gossip”, I always picture in my mind Mrs. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.

It didn’t always carry such a negative connotation. The word gossip began use as a noun, meaning “god sibling, or intimate friend.” Shakespeare actually began using the word as a derogatory verb to describe mostly female behavior and the word has evolved from there to the way we think of and use it today.

I think my answer to this particular question depends on a wide variety of circumstances.  I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer here.  Maybe I’m complicating it unnecessarily and for many of you, it’s very simple.  Or maybe, like me, you can think of hundred scenarios in which you would react differently depending on many factors/reasons.

I remember talking with a friend and for some reason she decided to divulge an extremely sensitive secret about not only a co-worker, but this person also happened to be my boss.  They were friends, good friends, before she became “the boss.” She shared many personal details about her life with the friend sitting in front of me on this day.  Why she decided to blurt out this particular secret to me, I still don’t understand to this day. I immediately felt extremely uncomfortable.  This wasn’t the idle chitchat of two bored co-workers. This wasn’t one friend venting to another or seeking advice.  I felt like a bomb had been detonated.  I didn’t respond.  The silence stretched on.  I knew she regretted her outburst almost immediately.  Her red face leaning in to whisper that of course, I can’t tell ANYONE about the truth bomb she lit underneath me. I felt off-kilter. I felt guilty for even knowing this tidbit of information about my boss.  I hurt for her.  I felt the violation deeply in my soul.  I continued to let my friend fill the silence with nervous pratting. My mind racing, trying to wrap my head around this newfound knowledge.

I agonized over this information for days.  It changed, not the way I felt for my boss, I didn’t lose respect for her, if anything my respect for her had grown, I just felt so uneasy knowing this facet of her personal life that I know she would never have told me voluntarily, that it did affect the way I interacted with her.  It wasn’t my business but I couldn’t unknow it.  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I had to tell her.  If the situation were reversed, I would want to know that this piece of information was floating around out there.  If this “friend” had told me, then it was certainly possible she had told others.  I wasn’t sure what she could do about it, but I felt very convicted that telling her was the right thing to do.  Right or wrong, I took her to lunch one day, and I told her.  She handled the whole situation with so much grace.  She admitted that while it wasn’t something for which she felt ashamed, it was deeply personal and not something she necessarily wanted out there in her work environment.  She was extremely disappointed and hurt by our mutual friend.  If she ever confronted her, I don’t know.  It wasn’t something I ever discussed again with either of them.

It brought into sharp focus the inherent danger in gossip.  How quickly it can take an ugly turn.  I don’t understand the motive behind telling me this particular secret on this particular day.  It seemed she was hoping to undermine my respect for my boss, but I really don’t understand why and when it comes down to it, the why doesn’t really matter.  She was wrong for sharing it.  It was a confidence she shared with another, a confidence she betrayed, a bond she destroyed and a friendship and working relationship irrevocably changed in a negative way.  My heart hurt for my boss.  Did I do the right thing in telling her?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  At the very least, I thought it would make her think twice before sharing information with this particular person again.

A serious trust was violated that day.  I’m always very careful about what I share with others.  Only a very few special people deserve the title, “heart friend”.  You know, that person that would help you bury the body and carry the secret to his/her grave.  I think gossip can be a very natural and healthy way to communicate among friends, but we must tread carefully and respectfully.  Words spoken aloud can’t be undone.  Words are powerful.  As women particularly, we are quick to tear each other down instead of lift each other up.  Gossip can be positive.  It can be used to describe the ways in which people communicate in community with one another.  It can promote bonding between friends. I believe it is a necessary part of our humanity, bringing us closer, helping to identify and set up moral boundaries.  Gossip becomes dangerous when it turns into theft of another’s reputation.  Gossip can be neutral and positive, but it can also be malicious and hurtful.  Typically, we know the difference when we hear it or when we speak it.

There is a Jewish proverb that says, “And your speech is like the feathers scattered on the wind. Once your words have left your lips, they, too, cannot be gathered again. From now on, be careful of what you say.”

Words to certainly live by ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope               http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch

Climaxed                                          http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

15 thoughts on “Something To Talk About

  1. Gossip, more often than not, creates ripples of consequences not only for the gossiper but for so many others. And yet we (so many of us) continue to do it. The bogosphere is littered with it, which is why the only way I could continue to write was to retreat to my own space and surround myself with those I trust.

  2. You answered my question precisely what I was looking for! Thank you for sharing that story. Gossip hurts. How often I have been on the short end of that stick. I always find it amazing how it gets back to you as well. I have kept secrets for friends for ions and sometimes it is not easy but it is certainly rewarding to know that you are someone others can trust.

    • I’m glad you think I did it justice! Like so many others, I do find myself mesmerized by gossip, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how damaging it can be. I am lucky to have a few people in my life that I could trust with anything. I hope everyone has THAT person, if you’re really lucky, more than one ❤

  3. Whoa, even I feel uneasy having read this, even though I don’t know what the secret was about (I am curious, though, I admit it.)
    Gossip to me is something people (especially women) do who have to much time on their hands and who want to divert people’s interest from their own short-comings, trouble and skeletons – does that make sense?
    I salute you for telling your boss, and I hope she appreciated it.

    • I think she did, I mean as much as you can appreciate someone knowing something about you that you’d rather they didn’t know…ya know? I think it’s normal and natural and everyone does it to some extent, even if it’s just sharing good news, like babies, marriages, engagements, etc.. but there is definitely a dark side to it, an ugliness that everyone should guard against, not relish. Thanks for your feedback! ❤

  4. I have been let down by others and I’m sure I’ve let others down in my lifetime. There are secrets that I will take to my grave for the right person, but I’m not above a good gossip-fest. Anyone, that says they don’t is lying. I mean not things like what happened to you, but maybe did you see who she was with type thing. Now, I’m old and would love some good juicy gossip! Lol!

    • Exactly! Like someone else said to me, I like the knowing part, I try not to be part of the spreading part, but no one is above it and in some ways it’s a very normal and natural part of our relationships with others ❤

  5. Some secrets aren’t meant to be shared and I’ll take them to the grave. I think I would have done the same thing you did.

  6. Wow, I’ve been on your side of the fence so many times at work.. It doesn’t help that I’m a social sally, but sometimes when coworkers tell you things you really begin to wonder why. Some of the info is such a terrible blow to your own ego, it would have been left better unsaid and makes you wonder if that coworker is a true friend at all.(The work place is like a the Survivor Game show) You have to know how to play your cards right or not at all. Stopping by from the USe your words challenge.

    • It’s so funny you bring up Survivor, my son and I have been binge watching some old episodes this summer. I think it’s got great life lessons about navigating relationships and other people!

  7. Loved your approach to this subject. Great post. For me… I am the most non-nosey nosey person you will meet. I tend to not ask questions, even if I am curious. I will absolutely listen, when people want to tell me things though. In gossip, I am kinda just that… a listener. I am the type that LOVES to know the gossip, but then it just kinda ends with me. I don’t spread it on. I enjoy knowing things, but don’t love spreading that knowledge. Whenever people gossip to me, and it is malicious in nature, I am one to speak up, and let them know they are in the wrong. As for telling the person that is the victim of the gossip… In general, yes, I tell them. They deserve to know, and may need damage control. If them knowing would would more damaging, then I may just hush. It really depends. Yes, I am weird. Great post!! ❤

    • I COMPLETELY agree with the whole “knowing things” concept. I’m the same way, I love being in the know, but it usually stops with me, not that I’m above gossip or haven’t done and said my fair share of hurtful things. It’s a slippery slope to be sure! ❤

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