We all want to be seen. Hand raised, here’s me. And we all go about different ways of doing that. Some channel that desire for significance for good. By adding value back into the lives of others. By lifting up the people they’re around, always.
Others choose another path altogether. They make themselves seen destructively. Their search for significance comes from capitalizing on the hurt feelings of others. Of using their information as power. They get involved in issues that aren’t theirs. They obsess over the emotional drama of it all. They pull it a part. Put it together. And pick it back apart again.
I’ve seen it in offices. I’ve watched it in friend groups. Families. Communities. Teams. You’ll always find people getting involved in other people’s business. You’ll find groups of people sitting around a dinner table sharing secrets that aren’t theirs to share. Those who stir up. And ignite the gossip.
Not only will you see it. Not only will you find it. But occasionally or in the past…you’ve been that person. You meddled. You told your mom what your sister said about her. You handed over information that wasn’t yours to begin with. You accidentally told someone’s secret. You started shit you didn’t mean to start.
You meddled. You got involved. And while not consciously, it was because there was this little flag your ego began to raise that led to the words or the text or the email tumbling out of you. The flag that said this will make me matter.
Yes. It’ll make you matter. For a freaking hot second.
Here’s the thing. We’re not in 4th grade anymore, most people know not to repeat the things you shared. But that’s completely not the point. The point is why you got involved in the first place.
Remember that time you were with one of your friends and she told you how she was feeling down about her job, mainly because her manager is always completely on her ass? She tells you, confidentially, of course. She was sharing her feelings and challenges. And then the next week another friend mentions to you that she thinks said friend is completely lost. And you go offering up information about her being down and out about her job and about her manager that wasn’t yours to share to begin with. You confirm her opinion with the info you have.
Why’d you meddle? Was it really your problem?
Was the emotional drama just that intoxicating?
Did getting involved, by listening or sharing, really do you any good?
Your words are massive power. What are you using them for?
Are you using them at dinner with your girlfriends to talk about someone’s shitty boyfriend choices? Or are you using them to discuss your big dreams? At lunch with your colleagues are you second guessing every leadership decision? Or are you coming up with concrete actions you can create to find solutions for momentum? Do you talk with your parents about how idiotic your sibling is acting or do you ask about their proudest moments as parents?
There’s a wealth of information out there. Some that can build beautiful relationships based on ideas, hopes, beliefs, inspiration, and bonding. And other information that can be used to momentarily make us feel important…yet in the long run, do nothing for our progress as humans. As supporters. As sources of inspiration.
So take inventory.
What have your conversations looked like in the past week? The next time you’re tempted to “share what you know” aka gossip. Hold back. Redirect the conversation. Listen without providing. Ask questions that move you onto more important topics. I’m no Mother Theresa and people will definitely be a topic of conversation here and there, but it’s how those conversations are handled and what the intention is that changes everything. You and I both know the difference.
And what are your relationships based on? Are they anchored in developing one another? Supporting the good and bad. Helping expand dreams. Problem solve. Believe. Or are they dependent on stirring up drama and talking shit? If it’s the latter, notice it. You’ll keep getting more in your life of what you put out there. Plus, my mama always says, “If they’re talking about someone else to you. You can bet your britches they’re talking about you to someone else.”