Health & Medical Self-Improvement

Turning Gossip Into Gold

Let's face it, gossip is everywhere - among friends, at home, at work, even in the media.
And we all do it.
Some of it's just idle chat about others a la Sex and the City girlfriend dishing: "Ooh, did you see that gorgeous man she brought with her to the party last night? All I can say is, 'Go girl!'" You share newsy tidbits about this, that and the other thing as a form of recreational small talk.
And then there's the mean brand of gossip in which people are talking about others in a negative way that's damaging - the kind of talk that leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.
The third kind of gossip, however, which I'm going to call "gripe" gossip, is the gossip that has at its root some complaint.
It's the gossip that happens around the water cooler or over happy-hour cocktails or in that weekly phone call with your sister where you tell your story, and you're the put-upon good guy, and someone else is the bad guy.
The problem is, gripe gossip almost never makes any difference.
You complain and tell your story to someone unrelated to the complaint, the complaint never gets resolved, and you simply create agreement about how bad things are and they shouldn't be that way.
Is this normal? Absolutely, it happens all the time.
Does it leave you and others fulfilled? Inspired? Happy? Not a chance.
You just get to be right about how unfair life is, which might give you some juice in the moment, but is ultimately unsatisfying.
And yet we still do it, don't we? According to a recent study, more than half of our conversations - and this is for men as well as women - are gossip-driven.
But there's a cost to this widespread phenomenon.
In addition to the obvious impacts of wasted time and lowered productivity, there's the fact that gossip drives a wedge between people, it adversely affects how others view you, and it saps your happiness and vitality.
The good news is, you can transform gripe gossip into something that can actually bring you closer to the people in your life.
Here's how: 1.
Notice when you're gossiping.
Engaging in gossip is a habit, which means you do it without thinking.
Practice asking yourself whether your speaking is contributing something positive to the conversation or is diminishing someone.
Simply paying attention to what's coming out of your mouth is half the battle.
2.
Identify a complaint.
Stop and ask yourself what the complaint is underneath the gossip.
Is it that your boss has given you more work to do than you can handle? Do your friend's last-minute cancellations of social plans get on your nerves? Is your complaining about your spouse to your friends really about the fact that you would like more one-on-one time with him? 3.
Take it to the right person.
What moves mountains in this world is the ability to make powerful requests.
Look to see what request you could make that would address the situation that's bothering you, and then identify the best person to take that request to.
If you've got more on your plate than you can handle at work, instead of complaining about it to your coworkers, make a request of your boss to sit down together and prioritize what you'll do now and what can be put off, done by someone else, or taken off the to-do list entirely.
Instead of griping to your pals about your significant other, go to him directly with a request he can accept, decline or counteroffer.
People are often amazed at the ease with which a simple request can resolve circumstances that previously seemed like a lost cause.
As you practice these steps over time, you'll develop some real muscle at turning would-be gossip into gold - and become someone whose speaking creates new possibilities, leaving you and others bigger.


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