My college roommate was a gossip. We shared an apartment for over a year, and she would sit down while I was at the kitchen table and give me the goods on everyone we both knew in school.
These sessions made me uncomfortable and unable to find value in friendships with any of the students she had targeted. I also felt depressed and alone.
Finally, I learned a valuable lesson: I didn’t have to listen!
You might wonder why it took me so long to learn that. But I didn’t really know who I was at that age and wasn’t sure how to avoid unwanted conversation.
I learned some other lessons, as well.
• Not to Trust Gossips
Whenever gossips are dishing the dirt on those who are not around, you can be sure they’ll do the same thing to you when your back is turned.
• Gossips are Defensive About Being Gossips
They’ll deny they’re gossips, regardless of how obvious it is.
They’ll justify gossip as “human nature.” (I’m human and don’t do it, so… )
They’ll claim they’re just “sharing information.” Right. I devised a test. If you were sharing information about someone, and that person walked in the room, would you keep “sharing” or shut up? If you’d have to stop talking, you were gossiping.
By contrast, imagine sharing, “Sue just had her baby!” and Sue walked in the room. You would never stop talking about that. In fact, you’d invite her to tell you all about the baby, how big she was, how Sue’s feeling, to show you pictures, and much more.
That’s sharing information.
• I Didn’t Inherit the Gossip Gene
Two genes tend to go hand in hand. One is the Nosy Gene. I don’t have that.
The other is the Gossip Gene. I don’t seem to have that one, either.
I respect these qualities in myself. I love the non-gossipy me and the non-nosy me. I don’t plan to change those qualities. And I seek and expect them in my friends.
I’ve turned not listening to gossip into a full-blown practice.
I’ve ignored it and let my mind drift to something more pleasant. When necessary, I’ve even said, “This is gossip,” and walked away.
Once I sat, without saying a word, on the other side of a roomful of gossiping women. I remember the moment they realized I wasn’t participating. The room fell silent. I felt good about myself and, oddly, even powerful.
What Does This Have to Do with Nutrition?
That non-gossipy quality forms the basis of my professionalism and confidentiality. It’s one of the many things that make me a good nutrition coach. Others have tried to coax me to talk about clients of mine that they know. Of course, I don’t, even if they’re family members. I strongly value my relationships with my clients far too much.