Something To Talk About


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

If you know people are talking about a friend of yours behind her back, do you tell her?  Or do you talk to the people who are gossiping or….both?

It was submitted by:

“Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.” Joseph Conrad

Whenever I think of the word “gossip”, I always picture in my mind Mrs. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.

It didn’t always carry such a negative connotation. The word gossip began use as a noun, meaning “god sibling, or intimate friend.” Shakespeare actually began using the word as a derogatory verb to describe mostly female behavior and the word has evolved from there to the way we think of and use it today.

I think my answer to this particular question depends on a wide variety of circumstances.  I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer here.  Maybe I’m complicating it unnecessarily and for many of you, it’s very simple.  Or maybe, like me, you can think of hundred scenarios in which you would react differently depending on many factors/reasons.

I remember talking with a friend and for some reason she decided to divulge an extremely sensitive secret about not only a co-worker, but this person also happened to be my boss.  They were friends, good friends, before she became “the boss.” She shared many personal details about her life with the friend sitting in front of me on this day.  Why she decided to blurt out this particular secret to me, I still don’t understand to this day. I immediately felt extremely uncomfortable.  This wasn’t the idle chitchat of two bored co-workers. This wasn’t one friend venting to another or seeking advice.  I felt like a bomb had been detonated.  I didn’t respond.  The silence stretched on.  I knew she regretted her outburst almost immediately.  Her red face leaning in to whisper that of course, I can’t tell ANYONE about the truth bomb she lit underneath me. I felt off-kilter. I felt guilty for even knowing this tidbit of information about my boss.  I hurt for her.  I felt the violation deeply in my soul.  I continued to let my friend fill the silence with nervous pratting. My mind racing, trying to wrap my head around this newfound knowledge.

I agonized over this information for days.  It changed, not the way I felt for my boss, I didn’t lose respect for her, if anything my respect for her had grown, I just felt so uneasy knowing this facet of her personal life that I know she would never have told me voluntarily, that it did affect the way I interacted with her.  It wasn’t my business but I couldn’t unknow it.  Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I had to tell her.  If the situation were reversed, I would want to know that this piece of information was floating around out there.  If this “friend” had told me, then it was certainly possible she had told others.  I wasn’t sure what she could do about it, but I felt very convicted that telling her was the right thing to do.  Right or wrong, I took her to lunch one day, and I told her.  She handled the whole situation with so much grace.  She admitted that while it wasn’t something for which she felt ashamed, it was deeply personal and not something she necessarily wanted out there in her work environment.  She was extremely disappointed and hurt by our mutual friend.  If she ever confronted her, I don’t know.  It wasn’t something I ever discussed again with either of them.

It brought into sharp focus the inherent danger in gossip.  How quickly it can take an ugly turn.  I don’t understand the motive behind telling me this particular secret on this particular day.  It seemed she was hoping to undermine my respect for my boss, but I really don’t understand why and when it comes down to it, the why doesn’t really matter.  She was wrong for sharing it.  It was a confidence she shared with another, a confidence she betrayed, a bond she destroyed and a friendship and working relationship irrevocably changed in a negative way.  My heart hurt for my boss.  Did I do the right thing in telling her?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  At the very least, I thought it would make her think twice before sharing information with this particular person again.

A serious trust was violated that day.  I’m always very careful about what I share with others.  Only a very few special people deserve the title, “heart friend”.  You know, that person that would help you bury the body and carry the secret to his/her grave.  I think gossip can be a very natural and healthy way to communicate among friends, but we must tread carefully and respectfully.  Words spoken aloud can’t be undone.  Words are powerful.  As women particularly, we are quick to tear each other down instead of lift each other up.  Gossip can be positive.  It can be used to describe the ways in which people communicate in community with one another.  It can promote bonding between friends. I believe it is a necessary part of our humanity, bringing us closer, helping to identify and set up moral boundaries.  Gossip becomes dangerous when it turns into theft of another’s reputation.  Gossip can be neutral and positive, but it can also be malicious and hurtful.  Typically, we know the difference when we hear it or when we speak it.

There is a Jewish proverb that says, “And your speech is like the feathers scattered on the wind. Once your words have left your lips, they, too, cannot be gathered again. From now on, be careful of what you say.”

Words to certainly live by ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado              

Spatulas on Parade         

The Blogging 911         

The Lieber Family Blog           

The Bergham Chronicles        

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Southern Belle Charm          

Never Ever Give Up Hope     

Part-time Working Hockey Mom