Strategies for Change: The Issue of Gossip

Remember the game of Gossip? Everyone would line up and the first person would whisper a sentence to the next person. That person would whisper it to the next person in line and so on until the message reached the end of the line. Then, the first and last people in line would state the message out loud. The difference between the statements was usually the source of much amusement. In real life, however, the results of gossip are often anything but amusing, especially to those who are its target. Misinformation passed around and amplified can lead to spoiled reputations and ruined finances.

More people are run over by gossip than by cars. Hearing gossip, it is easy enough to refuse to listen to it, or if that is impossible, at least not to repeat it. Dealing with gossip that targets you is more difficult. Sometimes it is possible to identify the source and have a quiet conversation with the perpetrator to nip it in the bud.

But overall, it is helpful to remember that there are three kinds of people: Big people who talk about ideas, Middle-size people who talk about things, and Small people who talk about people. Big people, such as Hershey, Ford, and Gates, think about what they can do that will benefit mankind. Middle-sized people create things that help idea people succeed. Small people who talk negatively about others are all too often describing themselves. They tend to blame others for their own shortcomings. They find fault with the simplest things. People who continue to criticize have learned that criticizing is a way to get attention. What they don’t understand is that eventually this habit will cost them friendships. Whatever they criticize in another, if that targeted person were to do the opposite, they would still be criticized – a case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. Trying to please such individuals is futile.

Aim to be a big person. Look for what you can do to benefit mankind. Or, look to what you can create to assist someone else’s worthy idea. The more we apply ourselves to these paths, the less potent gossip will become. Meanwhile, what size are you?

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