You don’t feel like you have to tell her the truth, my friend said. We were talking about the features of truth-telling versus not quite telling the whole truth. My friend has a family member it seems who enjoys a good story, anything that she hears is embellished with full abandon. Details are woven in, without regard for truth and anything shared with her is fair game for passing on.
My friend is shocked each time this happens. She cannot understand how her relative can ‘flap on” about things that are none of her business. The things she talks about are not even interesting, my friend winces. Who cares how much someone’s house costs or where her neighbour’s son went on holidays? I don’t care, she reiterated.
So what do you do when you have to censor what you say because it is sure to be repeated? Do you just stop sharing? If you are brave enough, do you tell this person that what they are doing is not acceptable? What do you do to protect yourself when there is a story-telling vampire in your life?
First of all, stop and think. Do you this person is happy with their own life? Could that be why it is so pleasurable to talk about someone else? Is their own life devoid of growth, challenge and enjoyment? Is this chatting just fun to them? Do they feel that their words are strictly entertaining and have no consequence?
Once you have (gently) told this person, that you are not interested in hearing about other people (remember the old fashioned word called “gossiping”), there’s only one alternative. Because don't forget that however enticing it might be, the person who talks about others will no doubt also talk about you.
Be quiet and walk away. And remember - you will not be able to prevent how this will be perceived. Stand tall and firm in your belief and duck when the talking starts.