I’ve just been sucker-punched.
A friend, we’ll call her Lippy, stopped by our house to take a peek at some work we’re having done. We laughed about the joys and challenges of home maintenance and repairs. So far, so good.
Then, this friend erupted with a juicy tidbit about a mutual acquaintance. Lippy just couldn’t wait to share something dreadful about our acquaintance. A very juicy morsel of gossip. It all happened so fast that my husband and I didn’t have a second to stiff-arm the gossip with the words–don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.
I so wish we could have seen it coming and halted it before the words left her mouth and slapped us both across the face. Violated. I felt violated. I felt sick about what this acquaintance is going through and the sheer torment she must feel because of it. I would be devastated in her shoes.
And now I know too much about her.
This event prompted me to create a Don’t Tell Me List:
Don’t assume because I attend the same church, work with, live near or simply know someone that I want to know their drama. I don’t. Please don’t make me the unwilling keeper of someone’s secret.
If you’re just dying to tell someone, don’t tell me! When a fiery bit of gossip is burning a hole in your tongue, it’s a good sign to keep your mouth shut. Cut off the oxygen and put the fire out!
If it’s personal and you don’t have expressed permission to share with me, don’t tell me! How do I look this acquaintance in the eye knowing what I now know about her personal life? We are not confidantes or she would have told me herself.
If the subject of the discussion has not (or would not) post this information on social media, don’t tell me! It’s private for a reason. The person may feel ashamed, humiliated, hurt or even devastated by the situation she faces. She doesn’t need to wonder who knows what about her life.
If this is a person I know, don’t tell me! Please don’t include me in the “in the know” crowd. I’d rather be blissfully ignorant of the gossip. That way I can keep my relationships untangled and on the up-and-up.
If this is about a person I don’t know, don’t tell me! It’s none of my business. Unless you’re telling me about a situation because you need advice or prayer on how to handle it, don’t tell me. If you do need my counsel or prayer, tell me as little as possible, omitting names and identifiable details.
If you wouldn’t share this in front of the person it’s about, don’t tell me! When my kids were little, I was part of a play group. We met weekly at a local park. I dreaded having to miss park days — not only because my children napped better, but also because any mom who didn’t show up was severely talked about! The last time I went, one of the moms was going on and on about an absent mom, sharing private things that would not have been shared in the mom’s presence.
I piped up and asked the gossip-spreader (who happened to be the very best friend of the person she was dishing about), “Hey, aren’t you two friends? Does she know you talk about her like that?”
Yeah, I was that mom. I’m sure I was the topic of conversations for a few weeks after I packed my kids into their little green wagon and took them home to play on our own swing.
Please, keep your juicy tidbits to yourself!
We’ve all fallen into the gossip trap. I have no stones to throw. My personal goal is to live gossip-free. How about you? What do you do to keep from getting caught up in gossip? Would you say something to a friend who shared inappropriately with you?
Want to know what the Bible says? Check out these scriptures about gossip.