It feels pretty awful to have people talk about you behind your back. Since this kind of gossip may be subtle, it’s often hard to pinpoint the source. For this reason, you’ll probably make matters worse by trying to confront the people gossiping. The best course of action is to ignore them. You might also engage in positive activities to cope and try to change your perspective on gossiping.
Handling People Who Gossip
- Many people gossip for attention or to get a reaction. If you ignore the gossipers, they may get bored and stop talking about you.
Treat them with kindness. Another great response to gossipers is a pleasant attitude. They will be bewildered as to how you could treat them so kindly when they have spoken negatively about you. Plus, if you reinforce your upbeat attitude, you may make the person feel guilty for talking about you in the first place.
- Pay the other person a genuine compliment, like, “Wow, you worked really hard on these flyers, Rose! The graphics look great.”
- Try to sound genuine, especially when giving compliments. You don’t want to come off as sarcastic or insincere, as this will only make things worse.
- If you can’t find something to compliment them on, try helping them instead. For example, you could open a door for them or help them carry something heavy.
Set limits with gossipers. If you have to spend a lot of time with people who talk about you behind your back, keep them at arm’s length. Just because you have to be around them doesn’t mean you have to act like their best pal.
- Be cordial, but refuse to get close to gossipers. Don’t tell them anything personal about you, which could later serve as ammo for even more gossip.
- Chatting is not the only way gossipers can get personal information. If you suspect that they might gossip, don’t give them your user name on social media.
- You might ask questions like, “How did you know this was going around?” or “What did you say when they were spreading that rumor?” You may even simply ask, “Why are you telling me this?” to better understand their motives.
- You don’t necessarily have to end your relationship with the messenger. But, it may be wise to watch this person more closely. They may not be as innocent as they try to appear to be. They could be fueling the gossip rather than trying to stop it.
- Let the messenger know that if someone has a problem with you or something you did, you’d rather them tell you about it directly than spread gossip. Say something like, “Next time you hear Aunt Margaret gossiping about me, please ask her to talk to me directly.”
- The next time someone tries to gossip to you, say, “You know, this is starting to feel like gossip. I’d rather not talk about her if she’s not here to defend herself.”
- If you gossip about other people, then people will find it more difficult to take you seriously when you ask them to stop gossiping about you.
Talk to someone in authority. If malicious gossip is interfering with your performance at work or school, you may need to take the problem to a higher-up. A teacher, principal, or supervisor may be able to put a stop to the problem.
- You might say, “I’m having trouble with another student/coworker. I think this person is spreading rumors about me and it’s really affecting my ability to focus at school/work. Can you talk to them?”
- The student or employee in question may have a reputation for gossiping or bullying, so your superior may want to take disciplinary action.