Most of you will have met people who talk behind your back, and it is never a nice feeling! There are a variety of reasons why this happens and why people enjoy spreading gossip. So let’s consider how we can deal with it when this situation occurs.

It’s easy to dismiss Chinese whispers as petty jealousy, but what makes some folks love to chat about their friends when they are not around, and others fiercely loyal?

5 Reasons Why People Gossip

It is a little so hurtful as finding out a treasured friend has been talking about you behind your back. But sometimes, they haven’t meant it maliciously.

1. Low self-esteem

Poor self-esteem is a common reason for mindless gossip. If a person doesn’t feel confident in themselves or perhaps believes that they don’t have anything interesting to say, they might think that talking about you behind your back makes them more exciting.

People with low self-esteem also try to avoid being the focus of the conversation, so talking about others is a way out.

Don't worry about what people say behind your back

Don’t worry about what people say behind your back. They are the people who are finding faults in your life instead of fixing their own.
-Unknown

2. Jealousy

Jealousy can be a factor. Even excellent friends can harbor secret envy, whether it’s because of your career success or your amazing new partner!

Some people just have the unfortunate habit of comparing themselves with others. They may feel like your grass is greener and they deserve better things in life than what they have. Oftentimes, this habit stems from self-esteem issues.

3. Negativity

Negative people thrive on gossip and rumors. Sometimes, a person who is talking behind your back loves the drama of sharing secrets. This is their way of making themselves more included in a social circle.

However, the most evident truth about negative people who talk behind your back is that they simply enjoy it. They never see the bright side and focus on the negative aspects of life and people. This is their level of perception – such personalities are often unable to see and say something nice about someone.

4. Shared dislike

Shared dislike is a common reason for people to get together to talk about somebody else. When this happens, neither person is a friend and may simply be trying to get close to you to satisfy their curiosity.

5. Attention seeking

Someone who turns the conversation around to you might be hoping it gets back to you. In this case, they might be trying to get your attention!

A friend who struggles with anxiety or self-esteem issues shouldn’t say negative things about you to bolster their confidence. Still, if this is happening, it might be possible to repair the relationship if they can try to work through the vulnerability that has prompted such unkind behavior.

How to Deal with People Who Talk Behind Your Back

The greatest paradox of social relationships: Everyone talks about everyone, and yet, no one cares about each other.

The greatest paradox of social relationships: Everyone talks about everyone, and yet, no one cares about each other.
-Unknown

There isn’t any ‘one size fits all’ solution here because how you deal with people who gossip about you depends on several factors:

  • How much you value the relationship and whether you believe it is worth saving.
  • How hurtful or spiteful the things said about you are.
  • Who has been talking about you behind your back – and whether they are someone you cannot avoid dealing with.
  • Whether any confidences have been broken, and how serious they are.

Here are five ways to manage this situation:

What to Do When People Talk Behind Your Back

1. Do nothing

It’s normal to want to retaliate or clear your name if people have been talking about you. But the reality is that this behavior says much more about the person gossiping than it does about you!

If you can, rise above, disregard the jealously, and keep doing your thing. You must be rather exciting to be the topic of conversation even when you are not around!

Keep in mind the quote:

Gossip dies when it hits a wise person's ears

Gossip dies when it hits a wise person’s ears.

-Unknown

2. Talk about it

You should also consider whether what you have heard is true because gossip can spread in all sorts of ways! If you have been told that a friend is talking about you behind your back, do you trust this information, or is it worth asking whether it is accurate?

Most people who talk behind your back won’t expect to be caught out. Or conversely, they expect you to find out and confront them. Either way, it can help put your suspicions to rest once and for all.

3. Make it public

When it comes to the workplace, rumors can be extremely damaging to your relationships and reputation. If someone you work with is talking about you behind your back, it is essential to report this to a person in a position of authority to investigate and put a stop to it.

In this instance, making the situation public can be a powerful way to mitigate the value of any gossip, and clear the air with other colleagues.

4. Cut them off

Sometimes, a breach of confidence is irreparable. If you don’t feel comfortable spending time with somebody you know has been saying negative things about you, it is healthier to walk away.

5. Rethink your relationship

If somebody has betrayed your trust, but you don’t feel that it’s right to cut him or her out of your life altogether, a middle ground can be to re-evaluate your relationship.

You will likely not want to share secrets or private information with somebody prone to gossip. So it would be well worth dialing back on the friendship and dealing with them in a less personal capacity when your paths cross.

Is It Best to Confront Someone Gossiping about You?

Whether or not to confront people who talk behind your back maliciously about you very much depends on what you would like to get out of the conversation. It is easy to feel angry, but make sure that you have heard all the sides of the conversation before lashing out.

Likewise, walking away might feel like you are emotionally defeated. You might feel strongly that you need to stand up for yourself and set the record straight before considering the situation finished with.

Oftentimes, people who talk behind your back are very skillful manipulators. In this case, putting yourself into a position where you are forcing a confrontation may not work out well. But if you need closure or would like to ask why, then this might be beneficial and help you move on.

References:

  1. https://www.wikihow.com
  2. https://www.scienceofpeople.com
Lauren Edwards-Fowle, M.Sc., B.Sc.

Copyright © 2012-2020 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

the power of misfits

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    queenbeetv

    Everyone talks behind everyone’s backs. Get real. As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” I think the solution is to either not disclose anything you wouldn’t want talked about, or just not care.

    Gossip gives dopamine to people’s brains, and dopamine is the neurotransmitter of pleasure, so low dopamine types are going to be especially fond of it. And low dopamine types are usually people who are genetically predisposed to have magnesium and B complex vitamin absorption issues. And since magnesium and B complex vitamins are needed to synthesize dopamine, anyone who has trouble properly absorbing magnesium and B complex vitamins, will tend to be more dopamine deficient and then tend to be more likely to want to stimulate dopamine release in their brain by gossiping.

    New stuff/ people/ or information stimulates dopamine release. So these people will also want to always acquire new things, or go new places, or meet new people and always seek out new information. It is seeking behavior which can have detriments for others like gossiping, but people who seek out newness also offer benefits as well, like being vivacious and interesting.

    So in deciding to cut someone off, a person should look at whether the gossiping person adds more cost of more benefit to them as a friend. It is always a cost / benefit analysis in the end. And unless whatever has been done is illegal, who cares what people say? At least the person who is being gossiped about has an interesting enough life to merit attention.

  2. Avatar
    JC French

    Excellent article. The only thing that bothered me was the term “Chinese whispers.” I have not heard this term before.

  3. Avatar
    Laurent

    WTF is “Chinese whispers”?

    1. Avatar
      Anna LeMind, B.A.

      According to phrases.org.uk, ‘Chinese whispers’ is a game in which a message is distorted by being passed around in a whisper. It refers to a sequence of repetitions of a story, each one differing slightly from the original, so that the final telling bears only a scant resemblance to the original.

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