DON'T TALK BEHIND THEIR BACKS
Posted By: AndrewA <AndrewA@newdaynews.com>
Date: Friday, 15 February 2002, at 12:49 a.m.
I'm not at all proud of it, but I'm a person who has, from time to time, Talked behind the backs of my own family members. I am proud however, to report that it's becoming increasingly rare for me to do so. I've observed that, the less I fall prey to this all-to common tendency, the more relaxed and calm I've become. In turn, I've noticed that those around me have become slightly more at ease as well. I feel better about myself because I am no longer " gossiping " and " backstabbing," or being too critical about others. And because I no longer participate in this habit, the ones I'm with are less inclined to do so as well. The result has been that everyone in my immediate and extended family feels just a little bit better about each other. As is so often true, when a few family members break a habit, the rest of the family follows suit.
When you talk behind someones back, it says far less about the person you are discussing than it does about your own character, about your need to be critical and your need to talk behind other peoples backs. It's like hitting a person who is down - the person you are talking about is not able to defend himself or herself. It's not fair.
Furthermore, if you pay careful attention to how you feel when you are critical about someone behind that person's back, you'll notice that you feel a little mean-spirited, as if your conscience is trying to tell you something. Deep down, you know that in most instances it's wrong to be critical of others behind their backs.
When you talk behind the backs of other people, it can also make the person you are gossiping about a little insecure. After all, if you're saying those things about someone else, what assurance do others have that you are not doing the same thing to them when they are not around? This lack of integrity greatly contributes to increased cynicism in our families and in our world because noone feels that anyone else is trustworthy.
The good news is, breaking this habit is easier than you might think. Once you see how truely nasty the habit really is, the rest seems to fall gently into place. At first, you might not notice your self being critical until after the fact. You'll remember when it's too late. Don't be hard on yourself. Instead, be grateful that your old habit came to mind and that your goal is to stop doing it. The next time you might catch yourself right in the middle of a conversation about someone else. You can say something like "Whoops, there I go again being critical about someone who isn't even around." Then gently shift the conversation. At some point, it will become easy. You'll feel youself about ready to be critical but stop short of actually doing so. You'll " see it coming" observer of your own thoughts and behavior, and nip it in the bud. In time, you'll rarely be critical of thers when they are not around.
Even when people around you are talking about others, you can gently refuse to get involved. Instead, you can guide the conversation elsewhere by remaining quiet, saying something nice, or defending theson being criticized or changing the topic all together. The benefits of being less critical behind the backs of others can be dramatic and instantaneous. Give it a try and you'll feel better right away.
BY RICHARD CARLSON
FROM THE BOOK; DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF WITH YOUR FAMILY