How to deal with those that gossip about you

How to deal with those who gossip about you

This week’s Ask Emma question is from a lady who has been going through a difficult time since learning that someone has been bad-mouthing her to a mutual contact. She would like to know the correct etiquette for dealing with this situation.
Well, this is a tough question. I think most of us have experienced this at some stage in our social or professional lives, and it hurts.

​There are no hard and fast etiquette rules about whether to address it with the person. However, I recommend examining whether the words and opinions of that person affect your friendships or professional success and reputation.

If they do not, then I suggest not wasting your energy on convincing that person they are mistaken. If their words affect either of these relationships as mentioned above, you will need to, and I suggest phoning them or arranging to meet them to discuss it.

​If someone starts bad-mouthing to you about someone you both know, then it is wise to remember the words of the 13th-Century Poet, Rumi: “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth”.

The only certainty is that everyone’s truth is different, and we all have our versions of the past! We think we see things as they are, but in fact, we see things through the lens of our own experiences and paradigms. 

Each person’s interpretation of the facts can be different. There can be many truths, and that’s okay.

What’s not acceptable is for us to think that our version is the gospel and use that as a springboard to launch character assassinations on others who are not present to defend themselves.

A sign of emotional maturity is to recognise that our story is just that; our story. 

Does this mean we can never share our experience with anyone else?

No, it doesn’t.

However, there is a difference between confidentially confiding in a trusted source to express our emotions versus gossiping about someone with the aim of influencing them to think ill of that person.

Beware of anyone attempting this; if they are saying it about others, they could well be saying it about you when you aren’t there.​

Of course, there is always an opportunity for good gossip, which is to sing the praises of others when they are not around! In which case, dish away!