02 July 2009

Using Inverse Gossip

Don Miguel Ruiz' first agreement from The Four Agreements is “Be Impeccable With Your Word.”

Wikipedia defines gossip as “idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted.”

When we use our words in a negative way, to harm, to slander, to gossip about, we are not only causing damage to the one we aim those words at, but also to ourselves. Words are powerful tools, they are also powerful weapons. What’s the difference? Both are of dynamic power, yet the former creates healing energy, while the latter creates destruction.

The Talmud tells a story of a woman who came to her Rabbi and confessed that she had spoken behind someone's back and told a falsehood about them. She wanted to know what could be done about it. The wise elderly Rabbi told her to go home, take a feather pillow, go outside with it, cut a hole in it and let all the feathers out. Then refill the pillow. He told her to come back to see him after that. When she returned, he asked her what happened. She stated "Oh, Rabbi! It was awful! I couldn't catch all the feathers and put them back in the pillow. Many feathers blew away!" The wise Rabbi said "Yes and that is how it is when we speak a falsehood about another person. Just as you could not retrieve all the feathers, we can never take back all the words."

We have all given into gossip. Be it celebrity gossip, workplace gossip, or family gossip. We must know who is doing what and who, whether it is true or not. Then we spread that story, that gossip. And it goes out like those feathers – irretrievable.

Just for today, when you get the inclination to gossip, use inverse gossip. What is inverse gossip? Well, think of one kind and sincere word about the person instead. Instead of speaking of their talkative nature, try mentioning their ability to speak on many different topics. And if it is indeed a stretch, silence goes a long way.

"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence." ~ Xenocrates

Be impeccable with your word,
Coach Carolyn


Spirited Strider said...

Beautiful, Carolyn! I have read this short, yet simple book and find that it contains many wisdoms. I love the idea of "inverse gossip." Reminds me of the saying, "If you can't say anything nice about a person, then say nothing at all"--but taken to a more positive level: FINDING the something positive to say anyway! There is always something positive to say. In fact, I use this technique (from Abraham-Hicks) and write down a list of positive aspects of a person, whenever I am having some challenges with that person or situation. It is amazing how changing our outlook seems to change those around us. Happy 4th of July to you and yours! Warmly, Barbara

Carolyn D. Townes, SFO said...

Thanks Barbara for your comments. I like that technique, as sometimes it is a challenge to find something kind about a person; especially a person you are having difficulties with.

Thanks again, and have a rockin' 4th!