Whether in the news or in the workplace, we’re always hearing about advocates who are proudly supporting causes that they feel are important. Men and women across the world stand up for human rights, impoverished people groups, children being trafficked, and many other humanitarian efforts.
But, what about being advocates of the people closest to us?
More often than not it’s easy to join in with the negative crowd. We live in a world of critics, and we have every platform available to spread our thoughts and opinions.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed how alluring it is to be hyper-critical. We’re all capable of falling into these kinds of conversations. We can easily sit with a group of married women and speak poorly of our husbands – categorizing them with the obtuse, clumsy men we so often see portrayed on sitcoms. We can smile and practically drip with charm when talking face to face with a coworker, but then turning around and call them nasty names as soon as they’re out of earshot.
Husband bashing, gossiping, back-stabbing – call it what you will – this kind of slanderous talk does nothing but spread poison. Have you ever been an outside observer to someone sharing gossip or saying harsh words about another person who is not present? How do you feel about that person afterward? Do you trust and respect them more, or do you fear what that person might be saying about you when you’re not around?
Here’s the deal: if we want to be women of character – women who are trustworthy, loyal, respectable, and worthy of deep relationships – we have to stop tearing down those around us and start being the kind of women who stand with and beside.
This means building others up when they are being torn apart by gossip. It means that we respectfully and graciously confront our boyfriends or husbands in a private, one-on-one conversation instead of loudly airing our complaints about this or that to a large group of people. It means being an advocate of the people closest to us, regardless if they are present in the conversation or not.
This is not to say that we can’t share our hurts and struggles with our friends. There is a difference between harmful gossip and speaking up if you’re feeling abused or mistreated. There is so much to be gained from being vulnerable with each other and speaking the truth in love and kindness. This is very different from the mean talk we’re discussing here.
There are enough people gossiping. There are enough people being critical in magazines, on the internet, and behind backs. It’s time to turn around and go against the norm.
We all know the old saying: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. There are enough people gossiping. There are enough people being critical in magazines, on the internet, and behind backs. It’s time to turn around and go against the norm. It’s time to encourage, support, and uplift not just companies and global causes, but the people right next to us every day.
While gossip destroys, being an advocate of others is a remarkable way to build up, encourage, fortify, and strengthen those around us. Speak kindly of others. Support the dreams of those you love as they strive to be the best version of themselves. Ask questions and show interest. Learn how to gracefully change the subject when a group of people start in on some harsh gossip or bashing. Invite someone to coffee and ask how you can serve them or if you can fulfill a need they might have.
These kinds of actions build trust, increase mutual respect, make space for vulnerability, and deepen relationships, helping us become graceful women of noble character.
Is gossip a struggle for you? How can you go against the grain of criticism in your sphere of influence?
Image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi via Flickr