How to Stop Gossiping and Creating Drama

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” –Buddha

Last week my twenty-year-old friend, Dustin, called me out when I was talking negatively about someone to a group of people.

We were sitting around a dinner table at what should have been a really good planning meeting for an upcoming yoga workshop our group was holding.

While we were excited about the out-of-town teachers who were coming to share their incredible knowledge with us for a week, we were stuck on a topic that was both irrelevant and unproductive. That topic even had a name.

For the purpose of this piece I will call her “Jessica.” She practiced with us from time to time, and in spite of the fact that she wasn’t a regular, when she did come her practice brought drama and disruption to the harmony we were trying to create.

When she didn’t show up for a class, no one seemed to mind all that much or try to get her back in the fold.

Yet somehow on this night when we had so much coming up in less than two weeks, there was Jessica, invading our conversation. I can’t remember who first brought her up, but I have to admit, I think I was the one belly-aching the most about her and what she may or may not have done.

Finally Dustin quietly piped up. “Can I say something?” he asked the group.

All eyes turned to Dustin with shock because he so rarely spoke and was never, ever, ever confrontational.

“I don’t want to offend anyone, but I have to admit I am really tired of hearing about Jessica and what she did and didn’t do. She doesn’t really matter tonight. Our focus should be on all of this stuff we have to get ready and our energy would be best spent there wouldn’t it? Besides we’re just sitting here saying negative things about her in this beautiful space where we’re supposed to be preparing something really positive.”

As he spoke his normally soft voice grew louder and a smile broke out on his face. After he rambled on for another minute he got a little self-conscious then said, “Wow. That felt good. I have never spoken up against a group like that.”

He was right. Being double his age and often the leader of the group, I realized at that moment how much I had been a participant in all of this unnecessary talk about Jessica.

Not only was it catty, but also it was just negative words filling the normally peaceful air around us.

And what’s more, Jessica wasn’t there to defend herself, and our conversation did nothing to enhance our lives.

With that we put the image of Jessica away, and with it cleaned the space for another hour, getting rid of cobwebs, dust, and bad vibes (some of which we had obviously created in our little rant).

For some reason, that experience with Dustin had a profound effect on me for the next few days.

I realized that the ritualistic practice we had all been engaging in is most commonly referred to as “gossip,” and it’s not a good habit. While women get accused of it regularly, I have known plenty of men to participate and even fuel the fire quite well, as had been the case that night.

Today I decided it’s time to create a new practice in my life when I find myself engaging in conversation which waivers dangerously toward the “g” word.

1. Catch yourself.

When you find yourself repeating a name over and over again in a story, stop after the second repeat (even if it’s a different story). Now ask yourself how bringing this up is bettering the world.

2. Pause for a moment and take some time to think about that person.

What is at the root of the problem there? Could you be so annoyed by it because it’s familiar to you and might be a practice you are guilty of, too?

3. Look for a solution to the real problem.

If you find that someone is constantly challenging your world in a way that doesn’t feel positive to you, can you remove that person from your life? If it’s your mother-in-law maybe not, but how can you work through or around this challenge?

4. Don't let stories get out of control.

If this person is someone who is going to continue to be in your life for a very long time, it’s important that you don’t let the stories become just that—stories.

Tell them over and over and they morph and grow more fantastic with time. Look at what’s important in that moment, focus on that, and let the gossip roll away.

5. If you absolutely must talk about this person, give yourself a time limit.

Look at a clock on the wall. Tell the story in one to two minutes. Wrap it up. Change the topic.

Doesn’t that feel good just thinking about it?

Photo here

About Shanti Sosienski

Shanti Sosienski is a freelance writer, website developer, producer, event organizer, flying yoga teacher and has a few other hats she wears. She loves people of all shapes and sizes and has 1958 Facebook friends that she actually knows. Check her out at

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
  • Very powerful write-up. Thank you for sharing. –

  • guest

    it takes a lot of strength to accept our faults and improve ourselves….thank you so much for showing me a way!

  • Cdhuntstl

    Best advice I’ve ever received … if I have an issue/problem/complaint with someone – speak ONLY to them about it. Otherwise, it isn’t really their issue … it’s mine. 🙂

  • Dan

    Awesome as always 🙂 such an easy trap to get caught in… And such a wasteful one.

  • I wish I could print this and put it up in the teacher’s lounge.

  • CapriciousYogi

    Great advice and great reminders! I think we often get caught in this cycle without even knowing it. It’s part of our nature, but something we can definitely work on and get better at! Thanks for sharing!

  • guest

    Excellent reminder, thank you.

  • Mbow902

    Excellent insight and wisdom. It is easy to become caught up in negative patterns of thinking and actions. Your points were very helpful!

  • How many times we catch ourselves doing that? Even the most spiritual person falls into that trap eventually. We need to watch ourselves every day. Talking negative things about people can really ruin our days. How strong is that bad energy we’re creating? When something is bad it doesn’t deserve mentions at all.

    Really good advices, Shanti. # 2,3 & 5 are my favorites. Definitely using them 🙂

  • Crundwell

    bravo the advice of the year,again bravo

  • Tobias

    And thank you for sharing how you were at fault and corrected it. It’s easy to point out how others cause drama, but few can see it in themselves.

  • Dustin

    very nice shanti!, turns out i am dustin and that was an amazing night! thank you so much for your story and your wisdom! you are a beautiful soul.

  • Shanti

    Awwww Dustin it’s friends like you who keep me straight and real!

  • Shanti

    Please do print it and post it! It was a great lesson for me!!! Spread it and let’s stop lame gossip!

  • Shanti

    I have been drama mama enough times that I think it’s about time I pay attention.

  • Gabrielle

    This reminds me of what happened to me the other day when a friends I respect very much just blatantly judged a girl we both are acquainted with and described her as “ew, really fat”. I took offense for her because more than any physical flaws, that was far more unappealing and noticeable.

    My only “thing” is: Is it okay to cut people out? I understand some people just aren’t good to be around but who will be the positive influence in their life then?

  • erin

    Just this week, I was going through this at work. No more participating or passing negative gossip for me.

  • Cath

    Excellent advice for a happy life. Thank you.

  • j-ster

    Gossiping about other people, and being critical of them, is a way of finding common ground with others, and of building up intimacy as you share information that is a little bit dangerous and private. I used to do it a lot in my relationships. The problem is that it is a negative common ground, and a false intimacy that deflects attention from the fact that the people involved aren’t actually sharing anything about themselves. I try really hard not to do it any more, and Im happy to say it doesn’t happen anywhere as much as it used to, but it still happens. The good thing is tho, it is no longer a guilty pleasure, it actually feels quite uncomfortable.

  • j-ster

    I have the same question. Im not so worried about who will be their positive influence later tho… But what to do with the person you just don’t want to spend time with anymore? Cutting them out seems so cold.

  • Pingback: Buddha Shanti Long()

  • S_farag

    Badly needed.

  • mionna

    MY NAME IS MIONNA KNOX and i want people to stop bulling me because i am on my last nerve to where i am go to kill my self.

  • OnlyLove

    Thank you. I have really been hating myself for the last 24 hours over a rant I went on that I viewed as venting at the time. My boyfriend told me that it bothered him because I kept going on about this person to a third party. It was about someone we both care about and both get frustrated with. I am proud of my boyfriend for calling me out and grateful that he keeps me in check when I am not being a kind person. I do not like gossip and try to avoid it but I was guilty of engaging in it the other night and it makes me feel horrible that I let myself go down that road with such passion. It has been eating me up and I feel ashamed that he and I both saw an ugly side of me. It is in the past now and all I can do is change my actions for the future. I really appreciate the post and all the comments, makes me feel a wee bit better 🙂

  • very sad and helpless

    I am so tiered of my daughters ex boy friends mom starting drama. she takes things that are said and twists them so that they are untrue. for example. I had my granddaughter at my house and she started crying uncontrollably that she did not want to go back to her dads. (There also is a custody battle going on with him and my daughter.) I became so frustrated that i screamed at my daughter to record this to show the guardian adlietem. At the same time my grandaughters dad is on the line saying is chey there? My granddaughters mom. My granddaughter dad and i made an agreement that chey would not see her. And i was in agreement also no prob my daughter needed to get her court stuff done. But i let her see her that weekend because my grandaughters other grandmother said it was ok. Wait before you say i should be listening to the dad and not his mom here is the situation with that. I have always had to ask his mother if it was ok to see my granddaughter. i would try and ask him and he would say ask my mom. the courts told there family chey could not see her daughter but all the while even though the court order said no they let my daughter see her daughter. Oh my god i am so exhausted
    from that families crap. Its like there crazy. I just want to see my granddaughter. Help me. Why are they doing this to me my daughter and my granddaughter. help

  • Guest

    Excellent tips. I think everyone gossips and sometimes, like your friend, someone needs to step up. I had an experience where I confided into a friend about a mutual friend. I was having issues with our mutual friend and I asked this friend specifically not to share. I found out that she went to the mutual friend and shared everything I said. I was shocked! This experience taught me two things – don’t repeat a story more than once and be wary of who you trust. I think the friend who listened to the gossip was just as bad if not worse for causing unnecessary drama and trouble between me and a mutual friend by sharing the gossip to the mutual friend. Was that showing loyalty to the mutual friend? I don’t think so since she was doing the same thing to our mutual friend. She was double crossing. I removed her from my life after seeing her true colors. Gossiping is one thing but using that gossip negatively to double cross or to bond with the friend talked about is a totally different thing.

  • Princess Tarrah

    Don’t think that way at all, I really hope your still with us, just brush those people out of your life if possible if you can’t just try stay as far away from them as you can, no one should ever feel that ending a life is the better option. I know as I’ve been there. So please just keep your head up and keep moving forward

  • Kevin

    5 years and going strong!
    I liked that Dustin saw your post.
    I have a problem, I love to gossip and I hate to gossip. I work in a hospital as a nurse and gossip is so rampant and personalities are so varying. I don’t like gossip about me but I can’t seem to stop gossiping about others, especially if I don’t like them. So, here I am at work, wanting to change this part about myself and I came across this article. I always seem to fall back into the trap of listening to negative gossip and contributing to negative gossip. I am going to use the skills of this article to make a change in myself because I want to better this behaviour. I will bookmark and refer to this article when I feel myself wavering back to the dark side. Thank you for the wisdom.

  • C D

    I have to disagree with most of this whole heartedly, but with compassion. Gossip is many times used to validate and share ones experience with someone who may be dangerous as a warning to others.
    It serves to help process information in the individual and formulate a way to cope with the person causing the offense. In addition, it builds trust amount the group members and forms tighter bonds for the survival of the functional and trustworthy members. As soon as you begin removing discussions about people who may be in some way disruptive, you remove human experience and the sharing of that experience as well as the processing of information about people that you’d like to avoid in the future.
    I personally find this to be something not wholly compassionate to our process as humans and the article sounds more like some unattainable ‘biblical’ judgement on what has been for eons a way for people to bind together and survive negative influences. It feels a little “holier than thou” without being achievable in any real sense.”