When I was a teenager, long before cell phones, we had one phone in our house. Period. It was in the kitchen. So, almost every time I was on the phone, chatting it up with a girlfriend, my mother always seemed to be close by cooking, tidying up, or washing dishes. The strangest thing happens to kids whose mothers are around a lot. They forget they are there. It happens in carpooling too. Kids start talking and before you know it, they’ve spilled the whole enchilada about what really happened at school or within their circle of friends.
So, about the time I entered junior high school, I discovered the phone as my new lifeline. And, my mother was “on the sidelines” getting an ear full. I was completely zoned out about the fact that she was listening until she started making the most awful guttural noise…..MEEEEEEEEEE-OOOOOOOW! She sounded just like our cat when its tail got slammed in the screen door. I kept talking. She kept screeching. What the hell, mom?? That’s when she explained.
She was being “catty”. Just like me.
GOSSIP is something usually attributed to women. But, plenty of men do it too. They are just usually more mono-syllabic about it. Husbands and wives do it with one another about other husbands and wives. Fortunes are made in the media around the most hissing vitriol, gossiping, and backstabbing. These days we call it content and entertainment. The meaner the better.
GOSSIP is like a handgun. The only reason to buy into it——is to hurt someone.
An unmistakable tone of voice goes with gossip. We all know what it sounds like. As one friend told me, after listening to her phone call, which she inadvertently recorded, she got an earful of her own mean-spirited voice as she shared juicy tidbits about a co-worker with another friend. At first, it stunned her. Who could possibly be so mean, so cruel? She could. It made her cry, listening to this ugly voice—-the voice of someone she would run for the hills to get away from.
Deciding to be positive on purpose always has its challenges. We are human after all. When we find ourselves in the midst of “breaking news” about someone whose life has blown into a million juicy bits, particularly when it's someone we don't like, instead of participating in dragging someone through the mud, what if we take a pause?
Before we open our mouths and close off our hearts, what if we wrote a mental note-to-self about what GOSSIP really means.
GO-SIP…..from the poisoned cup.
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