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?
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?
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.
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!