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Don't Listen to Gossip That Might Hurt You

So being a good friend might mean not sharing hurtful comments with them. But what if you're in the position Mandy was in in the last lesson? What if you're the one on the receiving end of the hurtful comments? What can you do about that? Well, not long after hearing Mandy's story, I found myself in that exact situation.

A colleague of mine at work confided in me that one of my peers didn't like me. She didn't know why he didn't like me. But it was just apparent to her that he didn't. And as a student of human behavior, she was genuinely curious as to why. Well, a few weeks later she somehow figured it out. And the next time she and I had a conversation, she was eager to share what she'd learned. She started to tell me, but in the middle of her first sentence, I interrupted her and said, "Do I really need to know this?"

She looked confused, so I explained, "Is it some deep character flaw I need to be made aware of, or something I did that I need to apologize to him for? Or is it just something about me this guy doesn't like?"

She thought about that for a moment and said, "Just something he doesn't like."

"Well then if you tell me, I'm probably just going to feel bad. Because I won't be able to do anything about it. In which case, I think I'd rather not know."

We both smiled at what we each considered a good decision. I was happy she'd gotten her curiosity satisfied by knowing the answer. And she was happy that she didn't burden me with it. We continued our conversation about something else.

So the answer is, if you find yourself in Mandy's position, you don't have to let someone share that kind of information with you. You can ask them nicely to not share unless it's truly important that you know. If they really are a good friend, they'll be happy you interrupted them.

Okay, share this story with your child. Then have a discussion about it. Here are some questions to get you started.

  1. What does it mean to "burden" someone with knowing something?

  2. What if someone didn't like you because of something you couldn't change about yourself? Would you want to know what it was?

  3. What if you could change it? Would you answer differently?

  4. What are some good reasons to know something about you that someone else doesn't like about you?

Okay, in the next lesson, we'll talk about talking about someone behind their back.

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Written by

Paul Andrew Smith