They Said What!
Are we venting or talking behind someone’s back?
All of these things are true: We want to be in better relationship with one another. Many of us feel lonely or disconnected from each other. And we live in a culture where gossip and cutting each other down is often used as entertainment or a way to feel better about ourselves.
We see it in our own relationships. Ever called up a friend or someone in your family to “vent” about someone else, but what you’re really doing is joining forces to complain about them or cut them down?
No wonder so many of us struggle to trust our relationships with each other or to feel safe and secure.
There’s a small act we can all do to make us act and feel better: knowing the difference between talking behind someone’s back and venting. And then holding ourselves accountable to make sure our actions reflect our values.
Venting is processing your feelings with someone so we can think about a situation more clearly. Talking behind someone’s back is trying to undermine the reputation of someone else and take away their dignity. Big difference.
The next time someone shares something embarrassing or hurtful about someone else, instead of joining in or even being silent, we can say “That must be really hard for them. What can we do to support them?” In one moment, we can transform the situation from dehumanizing and demeaning someone else to one where we restore everyone’s dignity; the person being talked about, the person you are speaking with, and yourself.
This originally appeared in our newsletter Communiquette.