Monday, November 20, 2006

Gossiping or venting?

I went to a fundraiser a few nights ago with one of my friends and had a really great time. My table mate was a woman who is about as goofy as me and she seemed to want to strike up a friendship. On the ride home, my friend, who was my table mate's coworker, vented about her the entire ride home.

This friend called me today to tell me she felt a bit uncomfortable about ranting about my table mate, but that today she was able to talk with this woman about what her beef with her was. I told her my rule of thumb is to ask a person who is ranting if they are gossiping or venting. In this case, my friend felt that she was venting and it ultimately enabled her to talk with the other person about what was bothering her, which was my table mate's lack of commitment to a board she had nominated her to. Ah, the ego is involved, I see. Now that's no surprise.

The bigger rule of thumb I use when I'm irritated with people is that I need to talk to them directly about what's standing between us, and if I'm unwilling to do that, then I have no right to talk to third parties about my difficulty or irritation with that person. As I read recently in some self-help book, when anyone tells you about a situation in which they are all right and the other person is all wrong, they are inviting you into a triangle. I don't want to be in any triangle nor create any myself.

If I don't have fortitude or courage to talk to the other person about what is bothering me, if I tell someone else, unless it's my sponsor and specifically for guidance or to sort out my feelings and needed actions, then I'm gossiping. It's seems pretty simple, really. Now, if I can live up to that.

According to psychologists, gossiping is used to vent and to establish solidarity. It's used shamelessly in the workplace to trade information. Want to know why a particular worker, usually a non-manager or low-level supervisor, is so powerful? It may be because they control a flow of information that is dished out to others when it suits their goals. Gossip in the workplace is a powerful tool for workplace dominance. Gossip is traded like baseball cards for various purposes which are ridiculous if looked at in the light of the spirit.

I love this quote from Eckankar clergy member James Perry:

"An important spiritual principle and practice is this: Always see the good in other people and speak highly of them at all times. In doing so, we see them as fellow Souls."

One time in pretty early recovery I was saying something negative about a fellow NA member to another NA member. I mean, I was really ripping them. The person I was talking to said, "Well, that's funny, because she always speaks so highly of you!" That stopped me in my tracks.
I think we sometimes look for the worst in people before they see the worst in us; it's a strong mechanism of self defense practiced by those of us with low self esteem. The only way to improve our self esteem is, I think, to practice love, not judgment. Until tomorrow, keep trudging and practice love. I think it's a verb.

1 comment:

A Tampa Realtor said...

Wow! Great post! Deep and meaningful!