To begin I always ask for some agreements. “What would each of you need to feel safe here so we can all be open and real?” Confidentiality is always one of the first to be named. They all agree they want that from the others, but can’t guarantee that they won’t breech the confidentiality agreement themselves. Hmm, sounds like a double standard. “Why do you think you may not be able to respect the confidentiality agreement?,” I ask with feigned innocence.
“Because we are Girls, and Girls gossip,” they chorused. “WHY do girls gossip??,” I ask curiously. Shoulders shrugged, fingernails fidgeted. One girl said, “Because we’re bored.” The others are also certain that boredom justifies gossiping. That without their entitled serve of endless entertainment they somehow reserve the right to create chaos, at anyone’s expense.
Basically contemporary females are taught to gossip and bitch about each other, and just about anything is game. Media and TV infect us with the contagious disease of dissatisfaction, celebrities teach us competition, envy and collusion, the news and movies train us to focus on life’s disappointments.
But I am not interested in the gossip, I am interested in how it is affecting them, what they are feeling underground that is the catalyst and motivation for the gossip in the first place.
“How does the gossiping make you feel?”
Bad. Empty. Afraid of what people will say about me when I am not there. Not good about myself.
“How do you feel when you hear gossip about yourself?”
Angry. Like running away forever. Embarrassed. Hurt.
“Do any of you ever feel those feelings when you are not faced with gossip, gossiping or anything in particular?”
Females are like the moon. We are designed to reflect light. We have the gift of seeing deeply into the soul qualities of others, we are hardwired that way so we can nurture the souls of our children. But the fluency with this language, this light reflecting muscle, has atrophied. We are out of shape from lack of use. Being positive is out of vogue, so ‘yesterday’. Maybe it’s time for a revival.
Gossip is saying often derogatory things about people who are not there, things you probably wouldn’t say to their face. Be a rebel. Try saying uplifting and kind things to each other, directly. Let others know about their strengths (Wow, I was impressed with your confidence when you stood up in front of the class to give that speech today) , their great qualities (You’re really generous), what they contribute to the group (You always bring a new perspective, thanks), the classroom, the team. Make it a practice to notice positive qualities. Start a new trend. See how it makes you feel. See how it makes them feel. Check out how people respond to you. Be patient and keep trying. It’s like learning a new game or new language. Try it with your family, at work, in the mirror! Guaranteed to give you new perspective!
I think girls gossip because they are unhappy, insecure, and lacking adult mentoring of positive and kind reflecting. Can you remember mean gossip as a youngster and how it affected you? Begin mentoring simply by modelling the languaging and behaviour you want your children to receive and emulate. Words have power. Words can wound, words can heal. What choices will you make today?
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt