A few days ago, a friend and I went for a little hike. The weather was cloudy and there was a threat of rain. Still, we both agreed that spending some time together outside in the fresh air was worth the chances of getting wet.
Like our hike, our conversation was easy and pleasant. We brought each other up to date on the major and minor events in our lives as well as our short term plans and hopes for the summer. At one point, while we sat on a bench to enjoy the view and the sound of the breeze blowing through the trees, my friend turned to me and said, “I’ve been wanting to tell you something.”
Sometimes those words cause a little alarm to go off on my insides. My friend is a retired counselor, highly educated and insightful. But, I reminded myself that no matter what she had to say, I trusted her because our relationship has a good history and a long history.
“Something I really appreciate about you is that you never gossip,” she said. Ah, I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled.
The reason my friend appreciates the fact that I do not gab about other people is that she knows that if I can be trusted not to regurgitate our conversation to anyone else. Her words, her point of view, her opinion and her life events are safe with me. I’ll listen, add my own thoughts and opinions, but I’m not one who is known to repeat my dialogues with others to anyone else.
Small talk about other people has always bored me and at the same time made me uncomfortable. When I am in someone’s company, I like to talk about the people who are present, not the people who are absent. If and when a topic turns to someone who is not in our company, I get a little anxious and begin to wonder, “Where is this conversation headed?” “Why talk about someone who cannot speak for themselves?”
When people begin their sentences like, “Did you hear what Doris said about…” or “What was Francis so frantic about when…” or “I heard that…” my attention drifts, sarcastic comments begin to form in my mind and I find a way to exit stage left.
Thankfully, the rumor mill people spread the news that Terese is not much of a conversationalist, that she is a bore to talk to and don’t bother trying to get any juicy information from her. Truthfully, I can live with that kind of a reputation.
Why bother not to gossip? When we watch our words, those who matter most to us will appreciate us and our reputation for being trustworthy will become the word on the street.