Awkward moments arise when we are placed in a position of hearing gossip about our friends. In instances when the people gossiping are not aware their gossip is about someone you’re close with, you can be exposed to some harsh truths. The truths you are exposed to can be how others truly feel about your friends, and things your friends have done and said which you weren’t aware of. Often times, there’s no telling how valid the gossip about your friends is. Thereby managing the things you’ve heard becomes difficult to do.
This article aims to explore two questions. The first is whether you should defend your friends in the face of damaging gossip being spread about them. The second is whether you should tell your friends what you’ve heard being said about them.
The closer you are with those who’ve become the victim of gossip, the more you’ll want to defend them and tell them what you’ve heard. You should carefully consider whether you should however, as other approaches can bring more benefit to your friend in question. The end-goal of your actions in this situation should serve to benefit your friend who’s being gossiped about.
Should You Defend Them?
Visualize the situation of hearing damaging gossip about your friends. Though it may be solely about the friend(s) in question, being exposed to this behavior hurts us too for some odd reason. Our friends being devalued by someone else serves to disrespect our ability to select who we’re friends with. The more damaging the information you hear about your friends is, the more it makes you question your selection of befriending them in the first place.Due to this rise in our personal doubt and emotion, we develop a desire to defend our friends (as well as our choice to befriend them).
So should you do it? Should you put a stop to all the damaging dialogue that you hear about your friends? First you should simulate the situation in which you do defend them. Though you may put a stop to that specific conversation, you will be labeled and excluded from future conversations of this sort. You have not put a stop to the notion others have of your friend, only their particular expression these notions in that single moment in time.
Knowing, and being around the truth is better than being blind to it in most cases. Be careful of being labelled as an outsider in these situations and listen without contributing to the conversation. If asked for your opinion, remain neutral, and simply say something along the lines of, “oh, I didn’t know that.” The need to defend your friend in that moment should not overpower the need to hear everything others think about them. Listen to the thoughts of those who gossip in their entirety, and collect that information to properly advise your future action.
Should You Tell Them?
After the gossip session has finished – and your friend has been berated by other people – it comes time to decide whether you should tell your friend what you’ve heard. This is an extremely difficult decision to make if you care for your friend’s emotional well-being. Ask yourself what exposing the opinions you’ve collected will give birth to.Will your friend seek revenge? Will your friend be saddened by the opinions of others? The protection of your friend must be paramount in the decision that you make at this time.
Analyze whether what is being said about them will damage them in any way. For example, if co-workers are gossiping about potentially career-damaging information then telling your friend about it may be a good idea. If the nature of the gossip you’ve heard stems purely from the anecdotal and personal opinions of others, there may not be any benefit in voicing what you’ve heard.
The reaction your friend has to the information you expose should play to their benefit. If you expose simple hateful comments others make which carry little power, then the reaction of your friend to those comments may do more harm than good. Your friend can react emotionally. They may confront those who spoke ill of them while incriminating themselves in the process, or they may be affected by these revelations in a way which affects their daily life (depression).
On the other hand, if you expose the fact that others are trying to get your friend fired from their job, then their timely reaction to that information can benefit them greatly. The answer to this question floats in the muddy waters of context.
Lastly, analyze the truth of what you’ve heard for yourself. Separate opinion from what is true. If you see truth in others’ comments about your friend after analyzing your friend’s behavior yourself, then it may be good to voice these truths as if they came from you.
If others have been gossiping about how creepy your friend acts when they’re alone with the opposite sex and you’ve noticed that as well, then commenting on that can be a good idea. If you agree with what has been said about your friend, then there is no point in telling them you’ve heard it from others. It is a truth that you believe as well, thereby you should tell your friends this truth as if it comes from you. You will limit the emotional reaction your friend has to this truth (by not seeking revenge over the ones who have gossiped), and they are more likely to make a change in their behavior as the truth has come from someone they respect.
The answer to this question therefore depends on you answering three questions first:
- Will your friend’s reaction to this information serve to benefit them?
If yes, then tell them. If not, then don’t tell them. Benefit in this case can encompass a wide variety of things (incrimination, emotion, sadness, revenge, opinion, etc.), so make your choice carefully.
- Is the information you’ve heard objectively damaging, or is it the subjective opinion of another?
If yes (such as a potential of getting fired from a job), then tell them.
- Do you also believe what you’ve heard?
If yes, tell them as if this information comes from you, not the gossip of others. If no, then resort to the two questions above.