A Woman’s View: Gossip

Even to hear the word — gossip — you can envision malice words being whispered.  When we were children, this word held a vicious meaning. Surprisingly enough, in our adult years, this word still holds as much fear and contempt as it did when we were younger.

Gossip has the ability so slander another person’s reputation, destroy lives, marriages, friendships and even get people fired from work.  The very meaning of gossip is idle, sometimes bitter, talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.  Gossip is not always the truth, but rather many times fabrications or misunderstandings that have the power to harm someone– intentionally or not.

As we mature, we tend to have the misconception that gossip won’t be an issue anymore.  In fact, adults seem to gossip even more as they get older.  Gossip is so popular that it even can be seen in television shows, movies and many articles.  Some people’s lives revolve around gossip.

Tabloids features stars’ lives and relationships, but what happens when gossip hits home?  I discovered that many women in the NEast had to change something in their lives due to gossip either at work, school or in their neighborhoods.

“I used to work at a company (name excluded for confidential reasons), and had to leave after 10 years of employment because I couldn’t take the gossip anymore,” said a very irate Carolyn from Blue Bell.  “It is so pathetic that people have nothing better in their own lives to do than make up stories about another person.” She continued, “The women I worked with started a rumor that I slept with the boss.  Well that was it – that was all it took and I was the office whore.  They stopped speaking to me, and my boss, knowing perfectly well it wasn’t true, wouldn’t give me a raise, take any of my ideas or ever even consult me on anything because of it.  It got so bad I had to leave.  No matter what I did they wouldn’t stop, and new rumors kept coming up every day.  I even heard people who didn’t even know who I was saying they saw me in the back office with my boss.  They need to grow up!”

Stories like this are so common, it would be endless to list all of them in one article.  In fact, I spoke with so many women who had gossip spread about them at work, and I still had a hard time finding any who had a good outcome after the gossip begun.

What struck me as funny is that of all the women I spoke with, none admitted to spreading any gossip about their co-workers.  This is both refreshing and unsettling at the same time.  If so many women really aren’t spreading rumors, then gossip could easily be stopped.  The other unsettling part of that matter is that many women (and men) may not even be aware that they are contributing to the spread or creation of gossip.  Small, seemingly innocent phrases could be misunderstood and cause gossip to accidently spread.

Gossip is almost unavoidable, as many times even if you are not part of a situation you can be dragged into it.  When gossip affects your work, and the ethics that should come with a work environment, it is best to go to your human resources department or management right away.  While this may not help the situation or seem like tattle tailing, you may be glad you have a record of the events later.  Confronting the rumor head on to the people who are either spreading the gossip or hearing the tail can often prove the most effective solution.  Getting mad or spreading more gossip in return only adds to the vicious cycle and feeds the frenzy.

“My marriage was almost ruined by my neighbor.  I still have no idea why she did this, but she told my husband that I was cheating on him and even made up an entire story about the supposed other man,”  said Ann (real name removed by request).  “She went into detail about his looks, his job, his car and even what times he would come by the house.  Even when I confronted her, she stood there and told me I was a liar and cheater to my face.  I couldn’t believe it!” Ann went on to say, “Finally I had to trick her so my husband could see firsthand that she was such a fake.  He left for work as usual and parked his car a few blocks away, and then he sneaked back.  Sure enough my neighbor called his phone and told him there was another man inside the house with a gray SUV parked out front.  My husband walked out the front door and told her to look out front and waved at her house.  She hung up and never called again.”

There are, unfortunately, no good explanations for why people would purposefully lie and defile another person’s good name.  It is sad that adults still act sophomoric when it comes to gossip, and maybe the root can be found in jealousy, hatred, boredom, popularity or lack of conversation.

Next time you are at work and hear some bad gossip going around, try not sharing the same gossip with anyone else.  Of course sticking up for the person may be out of the question as you run the risk of having gossip spread about you.  Envy is a vice that many posses, and can cause an innocent bystanders to fall victim to slander.  Stop the spread of gossip and try looking at the glass as half full, seeing the good side of a person rather than focus on the negative that might not even be true.  To all vicious gossipers: get a hobby.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEastPhilly columns here.

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