Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you heard something questionable being said about someone you care about? I am sure almost everyone has, and it is not the situation itself that speaks about your integrity or the quality of your friendship but your reaction to what is being said certainly does.
We all hear gossip, and many of us, at some time or another have partaken in it, even if it is just by listening to others. Some say it is just words and is harmless, everybody does it, but in fact it can be quite dangerous and harmful to people, friendships, relationships even families. There is little or no correlation between gossip and truth as people who gossip can change the truth to suit their own agenda and people who listen to gossip are searching for information either about the victim or something to use against those speaking.
Being able to check ourselves before we speak is one of the hardest things to do as we can get caught up in the moment, or we can be simply venting about a situation involving another person. However, unless we completely trust the person or persons to whom we are speaking we need to be very careful about sharing too much information about anything personal, particularly if it involves feelings about someone not present. Words spoken cannot be taken back but can, and most often are, changed embellished or used in a way that we do not intend.
A true friend would either defend the person who is not present or walk away and not listen at all. A so-called friend who listens with the intention of going and reporting to the person spoken about is a troublemaker who has a hidden agenda. What is their motive for “telling tales” when they know what they are about to say is going to hurt their friend? I have asked people who do that and the response has always been “because they have a right to know.” Bullshit, because often times what is reported is taken way out of context and/or embellished to make it sound way worse than it was! Why would anybody deliberately want to hurt somebody else?
Does it make them feel better to see their friend hurt? I believe it does, because they know they have now caused a problem between two people and they are seen as the good person. That is a classic manipulator playing with people to feed their own need for control. I have been a victim of one such person taking what I said out of context as I think many of us have, the saddest part for me is not the loss of a friend, but the hurt caused and seeing someone manipulated and knowing that sooner or later they too will fall victim.
I have also been on the other side, being the person spoken about only to have one come and tell me what was said purely with the intention of offending me. Always believing the person telling tales has an agenda I have been known to go back to the source and ask them if in fact what was reported to me was in fact said. Nine times out of ten the answer will either be no or not the way it has come back to you. So who then do I trust, who is telling the truth or who is lying?
I have learnt through experience that people believe what they want to believe regardless of the truth, so if people want to think badly of me they will, so be it. What I now try to understand is the motive behind why a person speaks bad, if a person has a problem, speak to me so it can be sorted. AND why someone would want to repeat what was said, are they trying to hurt me, or are they merely trying to make themselves out to be a good person? Finding those motives gives me a better understanding of a person’s integrity than the spoken words themselves.
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