O. WRITES: In close friendships, and in family, I value openness and communication, but when a lot of the problems I face have to do with conflicts with other people, how can I balance being open while at the same time not gossiping about these people? Is there a way to do both?
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Hi there! This is a really good question. It shows a lot of maturity that you care enough about not gossiping to ask this question. Here are a few thoughts I have. =) I hope they help!
1. *Don’t mention names*: This was the first thing i thought of when I read your question. Sometimes we really do need advice or help in situations; but we also don’t want to embarrass or talk bad about another person. Abstaining from sharing names really aids in this; especially if the person you’re seeking advice/help from knows the person/people you’re having a difficulty with. You can share; but don’t have to say who you’re talking about. Point 2 kind of goes along with this…
2. *Choose your confidant wisely*: if possible or proper, perhaps ask advice from someone who doesn’t know the people you’re struggling with. That way, you can be even more open without fearing they might figure out who it is or that you might damage their view of a person based on the negative you share. Also, you want to be open with someone who is trustworthy and not going to blab what you share to the world…Sometimes we have peers who can truly be this person (I’m blessed to have one like this); but more often, an adult or parent needs to be our confidant.
3. *Be humble* : be open about your own challenges…acknowledge that you fail too. For example, “I’m really struggling…I have a person in my life who is constantly putting me down and it’s just really hard for me. I know I fail at this in my own life too. I know I need to be forgiving. Can you pray that I will have a forgiving heart?”
^^ Admit that you struggle too…Don’t just bad-mouth the other person.
4. *Don’t give all the details* : Resist the urge to share every
detail. I know for me it’s easy to want to go through EVERY little thing
a person has done to me; but where does this get us?? We’re not really
asking for help at this point. We’re simply: gossiping and sharing
unnecessary information. Share what is necessary for the person to know
how to help you; but you dont always have to be incredibly specific.
^^Be careful with venting!! Sometimes we do need to vent; but when we do so,
we need to acknowledge that our words are likely not reliable or things
we really believe. We also need to be careful still, even when we
really need someone to talk to, not to name names (if possible) and to
be wise about who we are talking to. Still apply as many rules as
possible when venting!!!
Ultimately, your heart in the matter is going to shine through. If your heart has ill-intent when seeking advice and help people can tell. They can also tell, even when maybe you go about it the wrong way, when your heart is genuinely seeking help. =)
This was a wonderful question!!! I look forward to reading other people’s advice as well!! =D
@Megan is spot on! I have a friend who is close to me and thus is willing to listen when I need to talk and I do the same. What I’ve realized is only share what you need to. What is needful. My mom always says “When sharing things with others check these things. Is it kind? Is it needful? Does it really need to be shared?” So, before sharing anything with anyone I always check and make sure whatever I’m about to say is Christ-like. You can share things with friends and family without being a gossip.
Oh yes!! That’s so good Ana!! My mom says something similar: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?…are the three questions shes asks. Basically the same as what you said.! Good point!!
I think all Mom’s are wise like that. Thus they all share some of the same kind of wisdom. : ) How are you?
I’m doing really well!! It’s been a long time!!I should send you an email! ;D How are you doing??
I’m doing good, a bit busy but good. I just got your email and sent a reply.
I believe that the difference between gossip and just sharing is the heart behind it. If you talk about someone to feel better about yourself, make them look bad, stir up drama, or get attention then it’s gossip. It sounds like what you’re doing is getting stuff off of your chest and that in itself is not bad. However, I don’t know your heart.
It’s such a good question! Weirdly enough, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about and this morning, this article came up on the Desiring God app on my phone. It talks about questions we can ask to help us know if we should say what we were going to say. Hope it’s as helpful for you as it was for me 🙂
That article is really good! Thanks Cara. Desiring God is a great website!
It’s great isn’t it? And it’s so good that they have an app now too 🙂
There actually is a difference between gossip and being open. I come from a very open family, yet I find myself pressed to answer into the “gossip ring” with friends. The difference between gossiping and being an open book is what you are saying and how you are saying it. If someone is bothering you, tell your confidant that they are bothering you, but don’t add a whole bunch of mean or nasty comments. Tell one person not twenty.
Don’t talk about other people to someone rudely or with the intent to change that person’s views on someone else for bad purposes. Don’t do it to hurt others.
But also share your feelings.
I don’t know, this is hard. I feel like there’s a very VERY fine line between openness and gossip. It’s hard for me, too.
Always try to see the best in people, and then accentuate that when you’re with them, or talking about them to someone else.
I’m struggling with this. I don’t know exactly where the line is.
I usually tell people to shut me up if I start complaining, waaayyyy before I start getting into specifics.
And, some specifics don’t even need to be talked about. “I’m having trouble with my parents” gets the same point across as “yesterday mom said ____ and it hurt my feelings because…” but it’s much more respectful, and you have less space to sin.
That’s all I’ve got, but hopefully it helps.
I would say that the difference between gossiping and being open is what your heart is like. If you are complaining and saying rude things to several friends about someone behind their back, you are definitely gossiping. However, if you tell one person about someone you are having trouble with without mentioning names or rude comments about them, you are being open. It is very hard to not gossip, but if you simply say the things you would be comfortable saying to the person’s face, there is a good chance you are not gossiping.
I would suggest getting one of your friends to act as an accountability partner who gives you some sort of signal if you are starting to gossip. The signal doesn’t have to be verbal if that would embarrass you; just something that you know that it means to seal your lips. Make sure after this signal to examine your heart, and ask God if what you were saying was glorifying to Him. If not, ask for forgiveness. If you get into this habit, gossiping should eventually not come as naturally to you since you have been practicing watching your tongue.
This is just something that I do to watch myself and keep myself and my friends accountable. They do it for me and I do it for them. We all established that we do not want to be a group of friends who gossips all the time and starts hurtful rumors. If you tell your friends that you are trying to overcome the bad habit of gossiping, they should respect that if they are truly your friends.
Also, sorry if I repeated some things others said. I did not read all the comments. : )
U can always hide the name, make sure what you’re saying is not negatively impacting that persons reputation.