“Telephone” was a popular social game when I was growing up. Here is how it is played. Get some people together and sit in a circle or stand in a line. One person is told three or four sentences. That person whispers to the next person what they think they have heard. This continues until the last person has to say it out loud. In the end it is obvious how jumbled up those sentences are from the original sentences.
This game in its simplicity illustrates the distortion that happens when we pass along “facts” gleaned from another person’s whisper. This happens to all of us at some point in our lives and inundates the class room of schools and work place.
Here are some simple steps you can take to stop gossip.
1. Decide gossip is not something you want to participate in.
2. When you are tempted to “tell” another person something about someone else ask yourself, “Is this my story to tell?”
3. When a friend begins to share a story which changes into a gossip session say, “This is not my story to hear.” If you really want to be bold you can ask the other person, “Is this your story to share?”
4. Remember that if people are gossiping about someone to you, they are most likely sharing your story with others.
Our children/teens are watching the behaviors we do and listening to the words we say. This is one way they learn social skills that they take into the school setting. If you practice this no gossip stance, one day you will be rewarded by hearing your child say, “It is not my story to hear or say.”