Here he comes—the tabloid incarnate. You know, the one who’s got the dirt on everyone because he spends all of his time and energy dragging everybody’s names through the mud. You can tell by the gleam in his eye and the smirk on his face that he has some delightfully startling news for you about so-and-so. What are you going to say? Consider these six ways to throw a gossip:
Hold up a verbal mirror. Tactfully try to help the gossip realize what he or she is doing.
Gossip: Mark told me that he overheard Stacy telling Sara all about what I did on Saturday night! Can you believe her nerve? If her mouth were any bigger you wouldn’t be able to see her eyes. Well I’m sure she failed to mention what she was doing Saturday night …
You (interrupting): Yeah, I hate it when people talk about other people when they’re not around. (Walk away.)
Change the subject by picking up on something beside the point of the gossip.
Gossip: Guess who I saw John with at the movies last night? Rachel! Apparently they’re becoming at item even though he and Beth never really even broke up!
You: Oh, really? What movie did you see? I’ve been dying to see that one with Daniel Day Lewis …
Stop it before it starts.
Gossip: Did you hear the news about Tiffany?
You: No, but don’t tell me! If Tiffany has news, I know she’ll want to tell me about it herself, and I’m terrible at acting surprised.
Threaten to tattle. Let the gossip know you intend to get the facts straight.
Gossip: Guess what I heard? Randall wasn’t really sick yesterday! Word has it he’s been e-mailing with this girl in Atlanta, and he took the day off to drive all the way down there to meet her yesterday!
You: Weird; that doesn’t sound like Randall. I’ll ask him about it. You don’t mind if I tell him I heard all of this from you, do you? I don’t want him to think I simply heard it through the grapevine.
Take sides. Sympathize with the person being talked about; the gossip will no longer find it fun to talk about him or her to you.
Gossip: The new girl is such a snob. She’s pretty, but she obviously knows it. She’s barely said a word to me since she started.
You: She probably feels like an outsider; I hate starting new jobs. I think I’ll invite her to the game with us this weekend.
Get the gossip talking about him or her self. Express sincere interest in the gossip’s life. Chances are that the gossiping is a cover for insecurity or low self-esteem.
Gossip: You know Mr. Thompson, the owner of that cool art gallery downtown? I was in there the other day and overheard him talking on the phone. It sounds like he’s going through a divorce.
You: I didn’t know you were into art. Do you paint or anything?
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