Manners Matter: Loose Lips Sink Ships

Dear Mary Pat,

I have an acquaintance who regularly voices her assumptions about other people’s life choices. Consequently, these assumptions are taken as fact and find their way into the local rumor mill where they put the unsuspecting victim(s) in the awkward position of explaining that no, they are not pregnant/having an affair/moving/getting divorced/changing jobs. Obviously I stay tight-lipped about my personal life around this individual but I hate to see it repeatedly happen to other people. Any advice?

Rumor Mill Me Not

Valmy, Wis.


Dear Rumor Mill Me Not,

The best way to combat rumors and gossip is to challenge the person spreading the stories. If you hear something that is either unkind or not true, you look the person in the eye and say, “I don’t like when people talk about me, so I don’t talk about others. I don’t gossip.” This should be enough to stop someone in their tracks and hopefully prevent them from telling tales in the future. We live in a small community and stories spread like wildfire. It seems like the false stories spread the quickest.

It’s funny to see how the story changes when you are playing the telephone game. It is not funny to see how the story changes when you are talking about an actual person. Even if something is true, one doesn’t need to share it and keep the story going. Worse is when the story isn’t true and then not only has someone gossiped, they have spread a lie and hurt someone’s reputation.

Perhaps your acquaintance doesn’t realize what she is doing and how much damage she leaves in her wake. Confront her directly and challenge her on what she shares.

Good luck,

Mary Pat