Ask Dr. Zoe – How to Avoid Gossip Among Friends

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‘Minny Mama’ Asked:

I have two friends in my mom group that are bickering/gossiping about each other to another friend in our group. I don’t like to get involved in gossip or other women’s drama. However, I feel that these women will each say I am not being a loyal friend. What do I do? I thought that high school had ended. Thanks!

Dr. Zoe Answered:

And sometimes high school continues…We have all gossiped at some time in our lives. I know I have! Some people make whole careers of it. But I’m just going to say it: Gossiping is a sign of immaturity and it should be a habit that a woman of grit and grace matures out of. Time alone does not create maturity and wisdom, though. If you observe people long enough, you will encounter the 20-year-old wise soul and the 80-year-old immature child.

You are not being a good friend or demonstrating maturity if you participate in this drama. When it comes to gossip, Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:

“Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people.”

When you get involved in the drama between two people, this is called “triangling” in the world of psychology. When someone is feeling threatened, they will often seek to “triangle” another person in for support. But the person triangling is also just as likely to throw the third person under the bus, depending on what is going on between the two original people. Remember, whatever you say can and will be used against you in the court of girl drama. Triangulation just increases the drama and it never turns out good for anyone.

So, don’t get involved. Whenever you notice someone is trying to bring you in on their conflict, politely sidestep and keep on walking. The easiest way to do this is to simply say, “Did you talk to them about that?” Usually, you will get a blank or surprised look because they had no intention of talking to the other person. They just wanted to complain or gossip. When they eventually say, “No,” then you should just say, “ I think you should say something to them because maybe they don’t know you have an issue with that,” then quickly change the subject.

You are sending the wise message that the healthiest way to address conflict is to go directly to the person you have an issue with. They will get the message loud and clear and will either take you up on your advice, or more than likely find another victim to triangulate.

Don’t say “I don’t like to gossip,” because that just shames them unnecessarily. Very few people grow from being shamed and it just makes you look like you think you are better than they are. When you set healthy boundaries by not participating in the gossip, you are modeling healthy behavior and still being a really good friend.

You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.

Dr. Zoe

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