Karina and Monika were best friends for over 20 years. Since Kindergarten, they stuck together and created and shared wonderful memories.
Is someone talking behind your back?
The friendship lasted through marriage and divorce and not even when Karina left for Europe for two years did the friendship suffer the tiniest bit. They are best friends and part of a circle of empowering women that meet on a regular basis.
Now the bond is broken.
Karina heard from one of the new additions to the circle that Monika was talking behind her back. She was so hurt by this betrayal that she could not forgive Monika.
Cause and Effect of Gossip
The first thing we need to understand is how people connect. We often do not talk about what is really on our minds. Instead of saying: "My marriage is in trouble, and I am afraid my boss hates me," we might say something like: "The terrible weather gave me a migraine again."
That allows us to communicate that something is on our mind. It also makes it possible to receive the compassion we are longing for. We can connect with someone without alienating ourselves or giving the other one an awkward feeling. The other person has probably problems of his own and can share how bad "the weather" hit them.
When I was about 13, my bestie, Eileen, took me to her home in Ireland for a vacation. We loved to play games. We played two little games:
We went to a park, pointed on our watches and said "You stupid idiot" (in German) to our Irish targets. The people told us the time. After all, we were smiling and pointing to our watches. It was fun until someone who apparently understood German hit Eileen on the head with his newspaper.
We decided to play it safe for a few days. We replied "terrible, how are you" in the tone of "good, how are you" when someone asked us how we are. Maybe 1 out of 10 reacted and asked: "Why terrible?". The rest did not listen.
In most everyday situations people do not want to know what is on our mind. Even the least shallow people need to simplify their approach to life sometimes. Can you imagine how much time it would take to shop for groceries if everyone would give a heartfelt reply to the simple question "how are you?".
Talking about the weather is a safe measure of communication that allows the person in need of compassion to receive what they want without scaring others off or giving them an awkward feeling.
I am not saying it´s the perfect way to establishing a connection, and I encourage to look for other ways (you will find many on the Aurorasa Coaching blog). But one of the ways people connect is over a shared "enemy" or belief.
You automatically belong to a group when you put on your ManU shirt before you go to the soccer stadium. Maybe you will form a bond with a stranger when you discuss the incompetent referee.
Having a common like or dislike are both natural conversation starters. It´s up to us which ones we choose.
Most of the time when people talk about others the primary intention is to connect with someone. Not to harm the person they speak about. Or it´s just careless and not meant to hurt the topic of the conversation. They do not as much as dislike the person they gossip about.
Still, being the object of gossip is one of the biggest fear of individuals.
A disser gets snitched out
The "friend" that told Karina that Monika talked about her might not have such an altruistic motive after all. It might create trust if share who is badmouthing you.
It makes me the "loyal" one. It can help me to find my place in a new circle of people.
Here´s the thing: A real loyal friend would have stepped up to Monika and told her that they do not appreciate how Monika dishes out.
The snitch girl was new in the circle and still had to proof herself. This is not about evaluating how good or bad a reaction was but understanding its cause.
Snitch girl enhanced her connection to Karina by "warning" her about her best friend. They could connect via a shared "enemy." Snitch girl has probably no hard feelings against Monika.
Most of the time when people talk bad about us it is without any evil intent. Hearing about it from a third party can make it seem like a bigger deal than it is.
Nobody in this example had bad intentions. Karina and Monika have talked things out and what they have learned is that they are grateful that someone showed them that they need to trust each other more. Sadly for the new girl, her attempt to bonding backfired. She fell victim to the fact that friendship is stronger than gossip and that people love treason – but not traitors.
Karina and Monika re-connected via a "shared enemy".
Being talked about is a huge fear of people. Hopefully, the questions below can help us to be more relaxed or selective about what we take to heart:
Do I sometimes say something negative about another person? What is my intention when I do so? Does it mean I dislike them?
Was what someone said about me meant personal? Do I say something similar about others without evil intention?
What is the intention of the person telling me about it? Are they in need of compassion?
What other ways are there to form bonds and create connections?
Could it be that someone is just compensation his own insecurity or dissatisfaction? Or should you maybe invite them to not be scared of you and share their concerns directly with you?
Most of the time gossip is harmless. Only in a tiny number of cases does the person who talks bad about you have the intention of harming you.
I´d say: Save your energy for the rare occasions that might happen and smile about the rest.
Most of the times you can learn that someone is in need of empathy, friendship or compassion. I believe we should spread as much positivity as we can. Help those in need of compassion, invite to use empowering forms of bonding and be empathic.
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