Griselda Gossip—The Person Who Just Can't Keep it to Herself

She's not doing it maliciously, but her gossip is destroying the group.

"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret" (Proverbs 11:13).

Griselda Gossip can't help herself. Every time someone in the group discloses a deep personal need, Griselda finds someone else to share it with. She doesn't do this maliciously. Sometimes she's simply sharing a prayer request that isn't hers to share. When the word gets back to the group members they stop sharing and the group begins to lose its vitality. What's the solution?

Clarify the ground rules. As soon as you find out about the first breach of confidentiality remind the group members of how you expect them to handle anything they hear in the group. Go over the rules of confidentiality again. If you've signed a group covenant, remind members of the confidentiality clause. Don't name any names at this point unless the gossip has already started a wildfire. Give Griselda the benefit of the doubt—once.

Firmly intercept the gossip at the earliest possible point. If the indirect approach doesn't work—and it may not—you need to be more assertive in stopping Griselda as soon as you learn of the gossip. Begin gently, but increase the firmness until she catches on. You may want to find a time you can meet privately with her. Begin by repeating the ground rules in a firmer manner. For example, say, "Let's remember that none of us has any right to share anything we hear in the group. Anything disclosed belongs to the sharer." If that doesn't stop her, next time be more direct. "Griselda, I know that you don't mean to hurt anyone by sharing their prayer needs. In fact, you probably feel that you're helping them. But you simply may not disclose any information you get in this group. If this continues, we'll have to ask you to ...

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