So here is her post - go read it then come back over here, ok? Her blog is about Speaking Life Into People. Doesn't that sound awesome? I think so, too.
T: Is it True?
H: Is it Helpful?
I: Is it Inspiring?
N: Is it Necessary?
K: Is it Kind?
Obviously, this closes down a lot of conversation that shouldn't be happening but we all know it is happening. I'm just a guilty, if not more so, than everyone else.
Now that my attention has been drawn to it, gossip really drives me crazy. I sometimes just have to plug in my earphones and spike up the volume in an effort to drown out it all out.
I write for a local newsprint/magazine and I pretty much have freedom to write about whatever I choose, however, I'm listed as a service writer. Since changing my job, I'm out of the service market (so to speak) so I try to write about ways to give back to the community or self improvements. Here is the article I just submitted - you get a sneak peek before it's even published. I'll share more thoughts on this tomorrow...
Remember the game we played as kids, where the first person would whisper a secret in the next person’s ear, and so on and so forth until it got to the last kid. We all waited to hear what the last kid would say… and he would announce, “The secret is, ‘Billy ate a goat foot at the dime store counter!’” What? We would all look at that kid like he’s grown three heads because it was nothing like what the first kid said, which was, “Mary paid a buck for a brand new jumper.” Of course, we all heard a different version and passed it along until it was nothing like what it started as in the first place.
And that’s the entire point, isn’t it? The game was to prove to us as children how all the gossipy whispers you hear may not be the truth and therefore shouldn’t be repeated. Somehow, as we grew older, it seems we forgot about this lesson.
For whatever reason, gossip is one of those things that has really been getting on my nerves lately. And trust me when I say, I’m not lily white when it comes to this topic. Not at all and I’ll be the first to admit it! Once it was drawn to my attention and I took a step back from having my nose directly in it, I realized how destructive gossip is to every one of us. It’s ugly. It’s damaging. It’s totally not necessary. I’m not just talking about “ugly talk” but just talking about people in general. Sharing the details you know about their life, their struggles, their ups and downs, their history, their family’s history and what their dog did back when you were in fifth grade. Seriously, it’s the Southern way to know all and share all. But understand, adding a “Bless her heart” at the end of a particularly juicy tidbit of knowledge does not counteract its harmfulness.
I saw this poster online and copied it down to share with my coworkers and friends – people that are around me frequently and could hold me accountable to this new life skill I’m trying to implement. The poster said, “Before you speak: THINK.”
Each letter stands for something to evaluate before you say anything. “T: Is it true? H: Is it helpful? I: Is it inspiring? N: Is it necessary? And K: Is it kind?” Let me just share with you now – very little that is shared in our society today can fit in these five categories.
For example, Jane Ann may have gone a little crazy on Saturday night and streaked down the highway in nothing but her nightie. And, I’m sure plenty of people saw Jane Ann in her nightie to verify that yes, it’s true, she did it. But is sharing her embarrassing situation helpful to anyone? Possibly if they were looking for her that night, yes. But the next day? No. It’s definitely not inspiring to further hurt Jane Ann when she’s obviously already struggling. Definitely not necessary to do so nor is it very kind of you to share it. So, why not stuff a sock in your mouth and keep the info to yourself. OR, better yet, why don’t you go talk to Jane Ann and see if there is something you can do to help her. And you don’t have to tell everyone that you went and offered to help her and when you did you found the said nightie burning in the fireplace, either.
Do you see my point here? I believe most of us (again, myself included) have become way too comfortable sharing any and everything we know about everybody with anyone that will listen. The good, the bad and the ugly. I hate to tell you this, but it’s just not appropriate. It’s actually quite child-like to do so. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” So yeah, that stings a little, but it’s very true.
As we have implemented this in my office, you’ll catch one of them pointing a finger and shouting, “THINK! THINK!” as they know something inappropriate is about to come out of my mouth. And you know what, I’m thankful for them doing so. I don’t want to be seen as the slightly crazy and gossipy cat lady that lives up on the hill. I’d rather be known for being a person with integrity, faithfulness, and discretion. A gossip can’t be viewed as these three things because if you’ll talk about someone else to me, you’ll talk about me to someone else, so you just can’t be trusted.
Make no mistake, gossip isn’t always stretching the truth or flat out lying about someone. Oh no – go back and read these five points again: True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. Don’t start thinking you are off the hook if you only share what is true. Frank Clark said, “Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” I can’t disagree with him.
Is this one of the hardest habits I’ve tried to break? Definitely. I’m not even going to pretend like I’m perfect. One of my best traits is my ability to quickly snap off a comeback or comment that gets a chuckle from folks. A lot of times that snappy comment is at someone else’s expense and is usually based in truth. It’s been hard to stop that quick wit and realize a cheap chuckle isn’t worth the ugliness that seeps into my soul for being so catty. I have found myself becoming a more positive and optimistic person as I’ve slowly been learning to bite my tongue.
It’s not easy, but I hope you’ll consider taking a step back and honestly evaluating if this is something you might need to address in your own life. If so, try applying the THINK concept and see if it helps you better discern what should and shouldn’t be shared. I believe you’ll realize the improvement will greatly impact your life, as well as those you were going to gossip about.