There's a reason my closest friend Renee and I are tight: we're both passionate with an overlay of sarcasm. I love sarcastic people who don't send barbed-tongued comments to wound others. That's me.
Yesterday, I was happy I had conquered my tendency to gossip (at least in that moment). I sat in Sunday school and our teacher, who also happens to be Renee's husband, mentioned how his pile of research covered the kitchen table.
I blurted, "I'm sure Renee gave you your comeuppance at that."
I cringed. It sounded harsher than I intended. And a good thing. I scanned the room. She often doesn't come to class, but this day she did. And she didn't bat an eye. I probably beat her to the punch at the joke.
And better yet, it was something I would say to her face.
Good thing because I did say it to her face.
At one time in my life, I thought I had a sure-fired way of stopping my gossiping: I forced myself to forget what was told to me. If I didn't remember, I didn't spread it.
Bad idea. I developed an attitude of inattention, and I no longer recalled important details people asked me to pray about. I never re-connected with my friends to offer help.
So when attempting to bridle your tongue--listen to the personal details friends share about their own lives. Pray with them both at that moment and in your private times. Just don't spread the juicy tidbits. Remember, they're only juicy to you.
How to stop gossiping?
- Take a moment and ask yourself if you would make this comment to the person who is targeted by the gossip. If you'd die if your comments were heard, you better bite your tongue.
- Change the subject. People don't want to be perceived as someone evil. Gossipers are often fueled by their own insecurities. If you change the subject, most times the chatterer gets the hint her subject is unwelcomed. She knows it paints her in a poor light in your eyes.
- Say something positive about the subject. The speaker will get the hint. Without fuel, the fire goes out (Pr. 26:20).
- Try to find a solution. Sometimes gossip arises out of a genuine concern. Instead of maligning the subject, find a solution to the problem.
- Pray. James 3:6 says the motivator of evil-speaking is the devil himself. He certainly doesn't want anyone praying about the situation. If you pray, he will desist. Ask the person who shared the news with you if you could agree in prayer right then. In your own devotional time, pray.
- Remember the golden rule. Do you want your bad news or your foibles shared? If not, then why would this person. Also, remember the friend who is currently "confiding" about another's problems will probably share your information. Be careful what you say to her. If she is a chronic gossip, find a time to address her about her problem. If she does not hear you, then you may need to avoid contact.
Are there other things that have worked for you?