These days we have many choices. For EVERY aspect of our lives, but especially who we surround ourselves with and what we subject ourselves to as well as what we consume.
This pandemic period really did give everyone that extra excuse they might have needed to establish stronger boundaries and also may have given each of us enough pause to see certain situations or individuals for who they actually are.
I’ll finally get to that Top Ads of the past year this week at some point, as it’s still a topic that I’d like to revisit since 2020 was both one of the easiest periods and hardest periods to market to individuals, due to over-saturation and the term that I refer to as “cannibalism” of audiences (I’ll dive into more soon).
Personally, both as a consumer and in my personal life, there are two things that annoy me the most. The first is gossip, that’s one way to make my eyes glaze over or to get me to change my tone to a short one with you. In my opinion, there are many more important things that time could be used for than to be speaking poorly of others. I have a fairly good sense of judgment and can assess people’s character usually quite accurately.
I don’t let just anyone into my inner circle, but I do accept most as acquaintances or in broader social circles. There’s a reason that I’m still friends with ex-colleagues and people that I went to elementary, high school, and college with. I have the ability to take people at face value and accept them for that, I don’t ask nor expect anyone to change in order to engage with me. If you were to audit my last say hundred conversations or as far back as you have the time to go, you would not find gossip in those conversations and if the other person initiates talking about others, I typically shut it down pretty quickly or shift the conversation to more productive topics.
The second is cutting down others to make oneself more appealing. Even if someone were to come to me with some news about a mutual friend or acquaintance that presents them in a poor light, unless they had caused great harm to someone (physical or otherwise) or participated in something highly illegal, it likely wouldn’t impact my opinion of them as I likely made up my mind about how I felt about them quite some time ago.
This applies to family, friendships, anyone I’d date, etc. Everyone starts with having my respect and as I get to know them myself that either remains or doesn’t--either way, I made up my own mind about them without the influence of others. On the other side of the coin, I myself rarely find myself as a topic of gossip either, as I’m not really participating in those circles and am more busy being productive instead of worrying about what others are doing (you’d be guessing correctly if you also assumed that I don’t watch much reality television, if any at all). My curiosity enjoys human stories, but not those which typically end up making the water cooler moments.
Of course, there are times when a good venting session is needed or every now and then I’ll joke with colleagues about specific situations that may involve others, but it’s really never meant to be mean-spirited. A second scenario, would be your significant other coming home and venting about a bad interaction or day which also is much different than what gossiping typically entails—if I were dating anyone/ in a relationship at the moment and my partner needed to vent or bounce something that happened off of me or just needed an ear, of course I’d listen, I’d do the same for close friends (I do it quite frequently for my close friends actually), but in that moment they aren’t being petty or just talking about someone in a gossipy way.
This philosophy of sorts has served me well, as I can honestly say that I don’t have any ill-will towards anyone and can’t think of anyone that would have it towards me at this moment (or at least not openly). Sure, every now and then I will have to engage with someone who is acting out of jealousy or competitiveness or just needs more attention than I do (most that know me know I don’t really care about getting attention), but even those rare moments don’t affect me all that much. I choose not to put much or any energy into those moments which also take their power away.
This post was triggered from a conversation with some younger professionals, who when I spoke with them, had inquired as to how to avoid falling in with the gossip crowd at work. It’s actually a lot easier than they likely think and if they can avoid it, they will likely have a stronger professional future than if they fall into those immature trappings. There will always be cliques in every environment where there are groups of people and unfortunately some people do thrive on judging others or sharing secrets--again, it just goes back to what I said about taking people at face value. Once you see a person’s true colors, you can choose to engage with them or not and to what degree.
Just as we’re all responsible for our own actions and decisions, our minds are also our own and we control what we feed them with. How is worrying about what so-and-so said or did going to foster your own growth as a person? In both the short-term and long-term, probably not very much and will likely just stymie your productivity, so in the end you’re the one left with the short end of the stick not them.