How can we tell the difference between gossip and venting?
First of all, you can gossip (or vent) about anything. It doesn't have to be a person. It can be a place, a situation, a result, or something that will take place in the future. But the main difference is that gossip seeks to spread negative energy and tempt others to join on belittling other people (or places, or things). There is no such thing as "good gossip," because then it ceases to be gossip and begins to be something else, namely something not negative.
Venting, on the other hand, is generally okay in most settings, because you are most likely seeking advice or needing to talk through how to handle a situation (that may happen to do with another individual). In case you are wondering: "Well, can I vent about a person?" Yes, you can. But as yourself two questions. First, what is the outcome you desire from talking about this person. Secondly, how are you talking about the person.
There is a difference between, "Oh my gosh, you'll never guess what she did at work today," and "A coworker said some pretty offensive things and I need to know how to handle it." Totally different right? The first phrase only seeks to paint this person in a negative and repulsive light, whereas the second phrase focuses less on the person and more on the issue at hand.
Here's another rule of thumb. Gossip is not always connected to you. Actually it's almost never connected to you. If you partake in gossip, your goal is to spread it, hear it, or something else bad. Venting is a result of something that has directly affected you. Venting takes place because you are stressed out, or perhaps became angry or confused or sad or something else. Why else you have a reason to vent? Hopefully now the differences between gossip and venting are becoming clearer. One can be beneficial. One can never be beneficial.
How do we fight the urge to gossip?
We completely admit that is it hard not to gossip. As soon as someone says "did you hear about this" you've turned around because your interest has been peaked. We get it. Everyone wants to be in on the secret. But it would be so amazing if all the little or big secrets were positive ones instead of hurtful ones.
Fighting the urge to gossip can really be as simple as asking your self, "Is what I'm about to say about this person positive?" If it is, then make sure it is something you wouldn't mind them hearing. If it isn't, then why not just say nothing? Why not be silent? Why fuel the fire of negativity when you can breed something else better?
Some of it is laziness. We need to do a much better job of actively replacing our rude words with uplifting ones. An easy way to start doing this is by giving people the benefit of the doubt. We're not saying just give everybody a bunch of get out of jail free cards. But it is a little easier to identify what someone is trying to get better at than it is to create a messier story about what they are bad at. (Literally, it will take you less words to say something good than it would for you to describe the bad).
Inevitably, someone is going to bring you information about somebody else, and it will be painted in a bad light, and you will have a choice. You can try to deflect that gossip, or you can take part in it and make it much much worse. Your goal shouldn't be to form more opinions about another person. That sounds like a lot of wasted effort to be honest.
Remember: gossip is just not productive.
Don't let venting be anything but venting. The danger is in morphing venting into gossip by turning stress into resentment or something worse. Remember, there is never a time and place for gossip. It's just not productive. You gain nothing. The other party gains nothing. The person you are gossiping to also gains nothing but an inconsistent view of another person they may have never met.
There is nothing practical about gossip. There is a practical aspect of venting, because you can relieve good counsel and wisdom on how to handle a situation or talk to another person. You need to ask yourself how many other things could you have spent time on instead of gossiping? Probably a ton, right? Working, hustling, selling, spending time with family, chores at the house, even entertainment. Wow that is a long list already.
Again, we're not saying this is something easy to accomplish. It's probably one of the hardest things that we go through. Even as faithful believers, who strive to be more like Christ and follow the Bible, we need lots of help to be accountable for speaking positivity instead of negative energy. This will take time, but the more we fight it, the better we will become at it.
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
How do you fight gossip? Do you have any tips, books, resources, passages of scripture, or something else that helps you fight the urge to gossip? Lets us know here in the comments, or you can head to our YouTube video on gossip and comment on our video there. We promise we will get back to you.
It's our mission to be conversational more than anything. We appreciate your time and look forward to serving you more!