Here is an excerpt from a daily email that I get from Garrett Gunderson’s Power Hour program. It was something that came up in my life very recently, so I thought it was too good not to pass on.
Do you or someone you’re close to have a habit of “talking trash” about other friends and family members? Whether griping about how annoying Uncle Marvin is or remarking on what a hypocrite your sister Susan is, some people can’t seem to help but constantly focus on the flaws of others. It may seem like harmless venting, but it usually only has a negative effect on everyone– the one talking, the one listening, and the one being talked about. There’s nothing uplifting about criticizing and judging others.
It’s true that sometimes negative behaviors need to be discussed and addressed with the appropriate parties. If you have a genuine concern about someone that could affect the well being or safety of others, then obviously that should not be ignored. However, ideally the conversation can be held directly with the individual you are concerned about, or with good intent with others who may be involved or affected by the behavior. The simple way to determine whether or not you should be speaking about someone else’s issues or behaviors in the first place is to ask yourself the following:
- Am I talking about this person out of genuine love and concern for all involved, or do I have other motives?
- Is talking about this person going to resolve or help the situation at all, or am I just reinforcing my negative views?
- Is this something I could address with him/her personally, instead of spreading the information around?
Is there any “trash” that you would be better off removing from your own talk? Who, if anyone, do you regularly say negative things about? Is there anyone you speak with who regularly “trashes” others? What are some positive ways you could redirect negative conversations without being offensive or hurtful?
Keep in mind that the person “trash talking” may not even be aware of how negative he/she is being, so rather than reprimanding him/her for being negative, it’s usually more effective to simply acknowledge that you understand what they’re saying (without necessarily agreeing) and then change the topic to something more uplifting. It’s amazing how much better it feels to be a person who focuses more on the good in others, rather than focusing on their faults. If you’re already that kind of person, then give yourself a little pat on the back for being so wonderful. On the other hand, if you’ve got some room for improvement in this area, then today is a good day to start.
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”
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