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Gossip: Bite Your Tongue And Cover Your Butt

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Not long ago I spoke at a conference with a speaker who was very open with his opinion of another very well-known speaker. I could tell he was soliciting a similar reaction from me so we could both have fun criticizing. While I happened to agree with him, the conversation really bothered me. I try to avoid critiquing colleagues behind their back. It doesn’t help the other speaker, and it makes me feel a little sleazy.

In his attempt to bond with me, the speaker I was talking to only lost my respect. So instead of taking the bait, I just said I haven’t seen the other speaker enough to have an opinion.

Sometimes, like all humans, I do take the bait and participate in these conversations. I ALWAYS regret it afterwards.

Admiral Hyman Rickover once said “Great men talk about ideas; Mediocre men talk about things; Small men talk about people.”

I believe there’s NO real benefit to gossip. It’s unfair to the listener as well as to the person you’re discussing. And invariably, it comes back to haunt you.

Ever have this happen? A good friend gets dumped. Wanting to encourage them, you tell them how awful their partner was anyway and how lucky they should feel to be rid of that jerk! They appreciate you taking their side — until a week later when they get back together with their partner. Oops.

It’s very tempting to talk about someone to elevate ourselves or to bond with something we think will share our feelings. Unfortunately, words cannot be taken back. Like e-mail, once you put something out there, it’s out. And it can be repeated. And traced back to you.

I’ve found that it’s much more diplomatic and it just feels better to keep your words kind. Resist the urge to gossip. If you stick to the truth and to opinions you wouldn’t mind having repeated, you’ll never have to worry that your words will come back to haunt you.

To read more motivation, check the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Scott Greenberg, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant Providing motivation, team building and leadership training for groups and individuals looking for optimum performance.

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