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What I Really Know About Gossip: Tough Lessons

I’ll admit it. I have a problem with gossip. I’ve learned the hard way.

I gossiped about the friend who was looking bloated. It was fun until I found out she had cancer and was undergoing treatment. I swore I would never gossip again.

But then came the scatterbrained coworker who couldn’t get it together. There was plenty to talk about there also, until I found out she struggled all her life with attention deficit disorder. I really felt ashamed of myself. I swore once again that I wouldn’t gossip.

I was doing pretty well until a colleague came to my desk and dumped all her anger on me when I was not at fault. It was satisfying to vent my indignation to my coworkers until one of them mentioned that the woman had two special-needs children and her husband just lost his job and their insurance. I blushed with remorse for my unkind words.

I thought it would be easy to stop gossiping, but it was harder than I thought. What do you do when you are in a group and someone leans in close to talk about other people? Can you stop yourself from chiming in?

Yes, I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve seen too many good people hurt by gossip. Now when I have the desire to gossip, I redirect my thoughts to what might be going on in someone’s life. It reminds me to think before I speak.


The AARP Bulletin’s What I Really Know column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Mary Yep is a reader from Aurora, Ill.

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