Gossip


Vort
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What do you do if you find out you are the target of gossip with at least one ward family, and perhaps several? What do you do if this family gossips derogatorily, even viciously, about you and your children in front of your daughter (who is friends with their daughter)? Assume that you have been in this ward a very long time and have thought of the ward members as an extended family, who know your weaknesses and quirks but still put up with and love you and your family. Assume also that you may be slightly naive about such topics and just sort of thought that believing LDS families don't gossip about other people, because, you know, that's bad, and it's not something you do.

(Asking for a friend whom you totally do not know at all.)

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I don't know what I would do, but that is wrong and crappy and I'm very sorry for your friend. I'm one who is reluctant to run to the bishop with every grievance, but in this case I'd seriously consider it.

 

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I think part of the answer would depend on what this gossip is.  Does this family just not like you and are voicing their negative opinions?  Is this family making claims that are demonstrably / factually untrue?

The first thing I would do is pray - pray to overcome negative feelings, pray for the gossiping family, and then pray for guidance about what to do.  I would try to avoid discussing it outside my own family and encourage my children not to do so.  I'd try to avoid amplifying the situation during discussions within my own family (that is, avoid complaining or degrading the gossiping family).

If I were brave, after I'd calmed down, I might make an appointment to talk privately with the appropriate member(s) of this family (father to father, mother to mother, couple to couple), and discuss it as calmly as I could**.  I might plan how to be of service to this family (love your enemies, sort of thing).  I might try harder to overcome weaknesses.  It all sort of depends on what you can handle and what the Lord tells you to do.

**I've seen research which says that if you spend the 10 minutes immediately before (must be immediately before) a stressful situation writing down all your feelings about it, including fears about what will happen, that it will calm the over-active emotional portion of your brain so that its electrical activity decreases, and thereby stays out of the way of the rational activity you need.

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That's easy.  The serious answer is I would feel tenderhearted towards these people.  After all, we all have sins, and there theirs are right out there in the open to see.  They don't even get the relief of having them be semi-private like mine. 

The also serious answer, is I'd start a campaign to feed them juicy things to talk about, and see how far I could go with it before it finally dawned on them that no, I'm not really a homosexual in the witness relocation program for ratting on LGBT leadership ties with the Democratic party, and my "wife" is both my FBI handler and the church's local contact with the Colorado arm of the Sicilian mafia.  I would absolutely enlist my daughter in this endeavor, and give her free reign, just this once, to make up the coolest lie she can think of, and milk it for all it's worth with these people.

And while I was at it, I'd include one of my more heinous embarrassing sins, and reap the blessings of confessing publicly.  Ain't my problem if nobody believes it.

Edited by NeuroTypical
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Guest MormonGator

Two things 

1) Verify. Make sure you know they said what they said. Rumors are usually lies. For all you know it may be like playing the game of telephone. 

2) Confront and address the issue up front. Why are you talking about me? Do we have a problem? 

 

Sometimes LDS are too nice and let things go when they really need to address the problem. Big difference between "turning the other check and praying" and "being a doormat who can't stand up for themselves" 

Edited by MormonGator
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Oh, how I like NT's answer! I actually have done something similar before.

I'd probably confront the family. I am afraid I would forget to pray before hand like Zil suggested and am taking note of her advice. But yes, I have confronted people in similar situations several times and it has ALWAYS turned out for the best. Generally they didn't realize they were "gossiping" per say, were just being your typical dumb human as we all pretty much are. I have yet to run into anyone who is truly mean and doesn't get flustered at being politely but firmly confronted about the matter.

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On 5/14/2016 at 9:00 PM, NeuroTypical said:

That's easy.  The serious answer is I would feel tenderhearted towards these people.  After all, we all have sins, and there theirs are right out there in the open to see.  They don't even get the relief of having them be semi-private like mine. 

The also serious answer, is I'd start a campaign to feed them juicy things to talk about, and see how far I could go with it before it finally dawned on them that no, I'm not really a homosexual in the witness relocation program for ratting on LGBT leadership ties with the Democratic party, and my "wife" is both my FBI handler and the church's local contact with the Colorado arm of the Sicilian mafia.  I would absolutely enlist my daughter in this endeavor, and give her free reign, just this once, to make up the coolest lie she can think of, and milk it for all it's worth with these people.

And while I was at it, I'd include one of my more heinous embarrassing sins, and reap the blessings of confessing publicly.  Ain't my problem if nobody believes it.

The artistry of this method is to craft it in such a way that it is believable and juicy at the same time.  Then you need to leak it in such a way that they won't realize you are the one who originated it (at least not on purpose).  You could "accidentally" say it near someone who is eavesdropping.  Then you have to make every effort not to laugh and take great offense and become quite agitated that someone overheard you.

Idunno, how's their acting ability?

OOH! another method: Confront them as Backroads said.  But instead of discussing the stuff they've already been gossiping about, ask them,"How did you hear that I was a homosexual in witness relocation?  Who told you that?  I demand an answer!  You'll blow my cover.  I may have to relocate or they'll find me."

Edited by Guest
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In addition to the wonderful suggestions above....

My advice to all parents... build self-confidence in children so they can stand up against rumor-mongers and know that's not who they are so it doesn't matter what they just said.

 

I'm gonna share this altercation in my 12-year-old's school:

My son's best friend in school put his hand on the back of a girl's neck a few days back to steer her to where she was supposed to go.  The girl accused him of physical abuse days later and said he attempted to choke her.  My son defended his friend and told her that you can't choke somebody by holding the back of her neck.  The girl responded by telling my son that his dad is cheating on his mom.  My son came home upset that this girl accused his dad of cheating.  So, I asked my son... why did this upset you?  Do you think your dad cheated on your mom?  My son replied - of course not.  So, I ask him... so why did this upset you?  And he said... I was just so mad that I got outworded... My son apparently wanted to reply - are you sure that wasn't your dad you saw?  But he didn't think of it at the heat of the moment and so he got upset.  So we had a long talk about it's not necessary to have the last word on everything.  Sometimes, it's best to just ignore things you know is not true.  Sometimes, you can challenge them to prove it.  Sometimes, you can educate them of the truth if they genuinely believe the falsehood.  But this time, the girl just wanted to outword you... doesn't matter what words came out of her mouth... best to just ignore it instead of wasting your energy on figuring out a comeback.

Edited by anatess2
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1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

Sometimes if you can't figure out a comeback, just accept it in good humor.  "OH!  Ouch!  That was a good one.  I'll get you next time."

Hah hah... THAT is a comeback.

When I was in high school, I had several memorized phrases I can whip out in a snap as the moment is ripe for it.  My favorite is "How dare you insinuate that I can tolerate such a diabolical insolence from a scrap of humanity such as you!".

 

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Sometimes it takes me years, literally years, to come up with what I should have said.  I'll be like walking from my car to my job, and something will just occur to me that I should have said back when I lived in Utah, and had that embarrassing exchange with co-workers I haven't seen in a decade.

And then other times, I'll just mumble some random thing I'm not even trying to mumble, and people will burst out in laughter.  After they explain it to me, I will see I made a perfect, genius response, without intending to.  This happens a few times a year.

What I wouldn't give to be able to do that on command.

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Good mythical morning!  My kids are so into that show that one day I made their lunchbox themed, "Will it taco?" where I wrapped every item in soft taco shell... strawberries in the taco, celery and peanut butter in a taco, boiled egg in a taco, chicken nuggets in a taco....

Edited by anatess2
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Wow.  I hope you and my wife never get in a Best Mom Ever contest.  The results could be bloody. 

(She gave us a Dubstep-themed Easter, complete with dubstep-themed easter baskets containing dubstep-themed gum.)

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My children have name-calling battles a lot.  They create nonsense usages of common words.

"You're a toothpaste chair-head."

"Well you're a bed post lawnmower brain."

"Then you're a melted ice cream pork chop."

I introduced them to the word "fief" and one of them decided to incorporate it into the game.

"You're a FIEF!"

"Yeah, and?"

"Nothing, you're a fief."

"No, that's breaking the rules.  You've got to...nevermind.  Dad, he's breaking the rules in our game.""

"Huh?  How can anyone break the rules of... nevermind.  Whatever."

Edited by Guest
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1 hour ago, zil said:

Wait, I'm confused.  Do you mean "Yo' Mamma" (as in "Your Mamma") or "Yo, Mamma" (as in "Hey, Mamma")?

Welcome to the pedants' club (Vort just formed it).  So far as I can tell, it's Vort, me, and Aish.  Now you.

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On 5/14/2016 at 7:30 PM, Vort said:

What do you do if you find out you are the target of gossip with at least one ward family, and perhaps several? What do you do if this family gossips derogatorily, even viciously, about you and your children in front of your daughter (who is friends with their daughter)? Assume that you have been in this ward a very long time and have thought of the ward members as an extended family, who know your weaknesses and quirks but still put up with and love you and your family. Assume also that you may be slightly naive about such topics and just sort of thought that believing LDS families don't gossip about other people, because, you know, that's bad, and it's not something you do.

(Asking for a friend whom you totally do not know at all.)

Is Mirkwood in your friend's ward?  Because if your friend got all buddy-buddy with the one guy who everyone knows comes to church packin' heat, I bet the problems would clear up in a hurry. 

An armed society is a polite society, and all that.  ;) 

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57 minutes ago, zil said:

But he didn't include a comma or an apostrophe!  Who am I to proclaim which one he left out? :P

I would stress the comma to be the more basic example of punctuation... usually introduced before the apostrophe. So I would pay greater notice to its absence.

But yes, you are absolutely right! He was far too ambivalent!

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