I’m just so annoyed with Sally.

I’m just so annoyed with Sally.

Lately Sally talks negatively about almost everything.  She’s judgmental.  She drives me crazy with her pessimistic slant toward life.

I lean toward you and confidentially express this.

You nod your head and agree.  You seem to listen; to understand.  There IS something wrong with Sally, you seem to concur.

But is this really what has happened?  Do you really agree with me?

Maybe I shouldn't have said that...

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that…

Last week I stumbled upon a post in The Week entitled How to make people like you:  6 science-based conversation hacks.  As a former (and sometimes still) people pleaser, the title of this article fascinated.  What advice might science give?

I ho-hummed through most of the article, not surprised or enlightened.  However, Point #6 swirled my thoughts.

Research suggests what you say about others colors what people think about you.  Compliment other folks and you’re likely to be viewed positively.  If you complain, you’re likely to be associated with the negative thoughts you hate.


Instead of Sally being judgmental and negative, you’re likely to see ME as judgmental and negative?

How fascinating.

She shouldn't have...

She shouldn’t have…

From 59 seconds:  Change Your Life in Under a Minute by Richard Wiseman – When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to those characteristics’ being “transferred” to you. So, say positive and pleasant things about friends and colleagues, and you are seen as a nice person. In contrast, constantly complain about their failings, and people will unconsciously apply the negative traits and incompetence to you.

My friend Susan and I talked about this on Saturday night.  We pondered it.  Is this true?  We found several examples where it seemed totally valid.  We shared about people who gossip in negative ways in our lives.  And, yes, the study seems right. We both tend to look at the gossiper as the negative person–not necessary the person she gossips about.

Aiming for the heart

Aiming for the heart

However, come on, let’s admit it.  We all talk about others.  OK, most of us humans sometimes gossip.  We share tidbits about other people, both negative and positive.

My favorite kind of “gossip”, though, is the kind where I confide quietly to a good friend that Sally is bugging the heck out of me with her negativity and judgmentalism.  Then I bounce off my friend:  why is this upsetting me?  What is Sally reflecting to me? In what ways am I feeling negative and judgmental in my life?

In other words, I do not repress my feelings about Sally.  Yet, I use them to dig a little deeper, to discover the reflection, to find kind solutions, to become a little more aware.  We find out what Sally’s negativity says about us and use it to open the doors of our perception a little wider.

This is the gift of gossip, when we can utilize it to grow, instead of simply projecting negativity on poor Sally.

Does this study surprise you?

P.S.  I’m not really mad at Sally today.  😉  I don’t even have a close friend named Sally.  However, if your name is Sally–I PROMISE I’m not upset with you!






About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in June 2014 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to I’m just so annoyed with Sally.

  1. Reggie says:

    How funny and how true, Kathy! I’ve wondered about the same thing myself. I admire your honest self-reflection here. The approach you describe at the end is far kinder and more likely to generate insights into our own foibles and snap-judgements about other people, rather than propagating them further.

  2. I really like this post! It is a reminder of how we are to treat others. Do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I would hope that people speak positively about me and in return I should do the same thing for others. Our tongue has the power to build up and encourage or to tear down and destroy. We should work at being people who speak positively about one another. Thank you for this timely reminder.

  3. Pingback: From the Blog Lake Superior Spirit - - Lightourworld

  4. This made me laugh just because I was drawn to that same article, for the same “people-pleasing” reasons that you were! I am trying very hard (ashamed to admit what a struggle it can be!) to not engage in any negative conversations about another person. When invited into a conversation like that, I’m trying to form the habit of saying “well, you must admit…” or “I don’t know about that, but…” and insert something positive about that person. There are some negative consequences. Sometimes I am deemed to have taken the other person’s “side”. Sometimes it leaves me out of the group conversation entirely. Mostly, though, I’m enjoying seeing how it sometimes defuses a negative conversation…and it always makes me feel good about myself. Thank you for this thoughtful post!

  5. Robin says:

    Makes sense to me, all of it. 🙂

  6. Susan D says:

    So, so glad you wrote about this! It is fascinating. Loved discussing with you and thinking about the layers underneath the surface. Thank you for expressing it so well, and beautifully …

  7. Kathy – this post totally supports what my mother always said:

    “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  8. Carol says:

    I have fallen far behind in my reading of The Week, so I had not yet seen that article. Thinking about it, I have one friend who has a really hard time saying anything good about anyone or anything, and yes, I do perceive her as very negative.

  9. Heather says:

    Add me to the list of those who are not surprised. It just goes to show that you should treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I like your idea of trying to grow from gossip. Makes it seem so much less negative 😉

  10. P.j. grath says:

    Great post today, Kathy. Turning the matter of annoyance into a question about why you are annoyed is excellent advice — and you didn’t even offer it as “advice,” which made it even better. 🙂

  11. excellent points–and it makes one rethink what one says–

  12. Lori D says:

    Very interesting introspection. Thanks for sharing it, Kathy

  13. Great post, Kathy. Thoughtful and insightful. As they say send out good karma and goodwill return to you. I believe that to be true. We all have “Sally” in our lives. And that is a good thing!

  14. Fountainpen says:

    Ah yes!!!!!!

  15. Brenda says:

    Talking negatively is hurtful to everyone so whenever I hear negative words, I send a prayer up for their hearts to be softened. I know that sometimes I fall into a negative mode too but I try hard to lift myself out and be more positive. Many people have crushed my spirit in my life, so the lesson I learned from my experiences is that I will cover them and myself with prayer so God will shine his healing light on all of us.
    I’m sending you love and hugs today, my dear northwoods friend.

  16. Reggie & Brenda – thank you both for continuing the conversation 🙂

  17. msmcword says:

    I have also been “Sally” at times. I wonder if this is more of a trait in women then in men (excuse my sexism).
    As always, your post today was a delight for me to read.

  18. dorannrule says:

    Kathy, thanks for sharing a new perspective on negativity having a boomerang effect. The more I think about it, the more I agree.

  19. The study does not surprise me and like Laurie’s mother, my mother taught us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all. But it’s hard sometimes, to say nothing when someone else spews forth negativity non-stop. I like your idea of acknowledging the feelings and then examining them with the aim of deepening awareness and growing.

  20. Oh! The picture with the women and the braid! Yes, it’s perfect for the post. Well played. 🙂

    I have had my fair share of Sally moments. I still have them in my thoughts, but I give voice to them less these days…unless we’re talking about ducks….in which case I have a lot of Sallys…hmmmm…..

  21. I Wilkerson says:

    On the other hand I sometimes worry about being viewed as too Pollyanna-ish (sigh). Welcome back to blogging–I am late to pick up on your return, but happy to have you back. I think of you every time I hear an interesting UP weather forecast 😉

  22. Stacy says:

    No one ever accused me of being like Candide (the best of all possible worlds!! as if!!), but I try not to be the Debbie Downer in the room. Though I believe that humanity as a lot could use much improvement, I do believe in the power of individuals to rise to their divinity within. This is what I try (not always successfully) to focus on when someone irks me. That, and I read Kathy’s blog. That always helps. xo

  23. sybil says:

    Just this past week a friend posted one of those one of those “share this or else” items that asked you describe yourself in two words. Without missing a beat I wrote: “funny”, “judgmental”. But when I grow up, I want to be just like you ! (kind, compassionate)

  24. Meg Evans says:

    This makes perfect sense! I’ve found that people are kinder to me when I make more effort to avoid negativity. This year I have resolved to cultivate a better mindset by discovering and commenting on a positive blog every day, while keeping a list on my own blog so that my readers can enjoy my finds. Your site is today’s entry — many thanks for sharing your words of wisdom and all the fun pictures!

  25. I’m odd that I love to hear gossip, if it’s true, so I know what really going on, but I will almost never repeat anything so most things do kind of die with me. Great post!

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