November 2017
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concerning talking behind someone's back


I've said some of this before but I think it deserves its own post.

I do not believe in talking about someone behind zir back; I consider that very disrespectful. Everything I have written about any problems with any of my friends and everything I will write, I have ALREADY TOLD THEM FIRST and usually discussed it quite thoroughly. (except I can think of one case when I did not. It was a very minor issue (the person thought I was boring and that bothered me), but nonetheless I should have discussed it with zir first.) If I have an issue with someone, I keep it to myself until I discuss it with the primary person. After that, I feel free to discuss it with whomever I want, because it is part of my life and as such the story belongs to me. Usually at that point I have worked out the issue and I include the reconciliation in my telling of the story, but I don't consider the reconciliation necessary.

So if I don't have the guts to approach the primary person about an issue I have with them, I will not discuss it at all, unless and until I have confronted the primary person. If the primary person is not a friend of mine, I do not feel that I owe them the courtesy of telling zir FIRST, but I do believe that I owe them the courtesy of not talking behind zir back.

I think if 'Aye', talks about 'Bee' without telling Bee FIRST, or at least simultaneously, that is extremely disrespectful to Bee and deceitful of Aye. And if Aye talks about Bee behind zir back, without ever telling Bee zir words, that is a sure sign that Aye doesn't believe what ze is saying, and therefore it is most likely untrue.

The one exception is if a friend says 'I need your advice on this, I want to approach so-n-so but am not sure how.' I think when you are coming at it from an angle of intending on talking to the person and working it out, and you're just trying to get advice on HOW to approach it, that is completely different. But it should still be with only a VERY few, very trusted people, and confrontation should definitely happen afterward.

And flipping the coin, if one of my friends talks negatively about another behind zir back, I will mention it to them. I will not say specifics (unless speaking to the two people I have no secrets from (my soulfriends)), but I will say, "so-n-so said something about you, but I do not believe it (and/or) I do not agree with them (and/or) I want to hear your side of the story." I think for me to keep it to myself would be a breach of trust with the person talked about. To listen to someone talk negatively about my friend behind zir back, and do nothing -- that I will not do. (obviously if the person you're talking about is not a close friend of mine, I will not get involved in the matter because that is none of my business) And if this bothers you, go ahead and unfriend me, or if you say negatives about a friend of mine without telling them first, filter me out of it. I apologize for not making this clear earlier, but it's never been an issue until lately.

If the negative-talker doesn't want the person ze's speaking of to know, ze shouldn't make it known. Once knowledge is in my head, it is MY knowledge and MY responsibility as to what to do with it. I can't say, 'well I didn't create this piece of knowledge and therefore it isn't my responsibility.' Knowledge is owned not by the creator but by anyone who knows it. What I know is my responsibility. If I know someone is lying to my friend (and speaking behind someone's back IS a lie of omission) and I do not tell zir, I am also guilty of a lie of omission.

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Comments
dragonwine ══╣Amelie: Good deed!╠══
{applause} I totally agree with your stance on this...
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
{thanks} I'm glad ;-)
frenetik ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣voltaic╠══
thank you bebeh XD
flyingshaman ══╣╠══
I agree with the premise of your argument, that people shouldn't talk behind each other's backs. There is the argument that, when one is writing about a situation that has happened, and which has been (maybe) resolved, or both parties are still hurt from it, and one is writing from place of pain, one tends to distort the actual events or one's understandings at the time (which, given any strong emotion, is understandable, yet..). This can lead to a miscommunication among one's friends, if that is the only account they hear of for some time (maybe because the other party is taking time to digest and process what happened and so to give some distance and think through it.

I don't entirely agree with your way of dealing with friends talking negatively about each other. I respect your stance, but I believe that when one friend says something negative about another, but not to their face, instead of another friend hearing it and then relaying it on to the friend negatively spoken about, that is gossip. That creates a feeling of distrust and an environment of fear, because the friend talked negatively of will not trust the friend who spoke negatively about her.

I have witnessed another situation like this, in my church, and the results are quite painful.

It is my belief that a responsible way of approaching this kind of situation is, if one hears/reads something negative said about a good friend, one should tell the person who is talking negatively to be brave enough and tell them. Perhaps rebuke them, but ultimately let them talk to the person (offer constructive criticism, their own feelings, etc). It is the responsibility of the two parties directly involved to sort out their affairs, not a third party who has heard the words and wants to be completely open and honest with her friend. While the motive itself is admirable, the ultimate result does not create an environment of trust except to create a stronger rapport between the friend talked about negatively and the third party, in this "us" vs "them" sort of conflict.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
Telling the person who has been talked about would be a last resort. I would only do it if I felt sure that the person who spoke negatively had no intention of confronting the other person. I think it is very harmful to let someone I love go on trusting someone who talks about them behind their back.

You say it does not create an environment of trust: I say that to be silent is to betray the friend who has been spoken of negatively -- it is a breach of trust. Therefore to speak up is to avoid that breach of trust. Think: if you were friends with Aye and Bee and Aye said nasty things about you to Bee and Bee did not contradict her, nor tell you, but let you go on thinking that Aye admired you, cared for you, would you not feel betrayed by silent Bee?

If I were to tell someone about something negative said about them, I would be telling them while pushing them to confront the negative-talker. Unless they were not friends with the negative-talker, in which case I would be telling them so that they knew I did not agree with the negative-talker.

Of course one should initially push the negative-talker to speak to the person they have a problem with. But if they chose not to, then you have the situation of choosing to help them deceive your friend by staying silent, or warning your friend. To stand passively by is to be an accomplice.
flyingshaman ══╣╠══
Speaking up to the negative-talker I agree with. It is within your right to urge them to talk to the person they are speaking negatively about.

"But if they chose not to, then you have the situation of choosing to help them deceive your friend by staying silent, or warning your friend."

People have to live their lives. They cannot be warned of all the pitfalls in life. No matter how it hurts, it is only through letting them learn life lessons that they grow. A friend "warning" another friend of something negative said about her creates a "saving" complex for herself, as in those two stick together, against at least one person who is "untrustworthy".

"If I were to tell someone about something negative said about them, I would be telling them while pushing them to confront the negative-talker"

In my belief, you telling them about the negative-talker is not your responsibility. Either they are meant to find out or they won't. Your knowing of a situation while someone spoken about doesn't, doesn't give you the responsibility or the right to tell them about it. If the negative-talker does not want to go to the person they are speaking negatively about, then that's where the story ends.

Betrayal, while yes, it hurts, terribly sometimes, is a gift of growth. Maybe the two who were friends need to re evaluate their goals/ideas/beliefs that they hold together.

"Rescuing" someone from someone else takes the responsibility away from the negative-talker and the person they talked negatively about.

"To stand passively by is to be an accomplice".
To stand passively by while someone is speaking ill of a friend, yes, does show cowardice. But if the negative-talker refuses to talk to the friend, one might ask them, "What are you afraid of? You could rephrase that, perhaps. Maybe they need to hear this."
belenen ══╣strong╠══
choosing to stay silent is as much of a choice as choosing to tell. There is no 'default' action.

Of course they cannot be warned of all pitfalls in life, and I would never advocate LOOKING for ways to 'save' people. But when the choice is put to you, I think you ought to act in a way to help your friend, not simply stand by and watch as someone criticizes her behind her back while speaking nicely to her face. It does not create a 'saving' complex because it is one issue which shouldn't happen that often. It's only happened maaaaaaaaaybe two or three times in my whole life. I hardly feel like I need to go out and save the people I was honest with about the backbiting of others.

If the negative-talker doesn't want the person she's speaking of to know, she shouldn't make it known. Once knowledge is in my head, it is MY knowledge and MY responsibility as to what to do with it. I can't say, 'well I didn't create this piece of knowledge and therefore it isn't my responsibility.' Knowledge is owned not by the creator but by anyone who knows it. What I know is my responsibility. If I know someone is lying to my friend (and speaking behind someone's back IS a lie of omission) and I do not tell her, I am guilty of a lie of omission.
belenen ══╣strong╠══
and like I said, of course the first step is to urge the negative-talker to approach the one whom they speak of. But if they make it known that they do not intend to tell the person they speak of, then the responsibility passes to whomever else knows. Once knowledge is in a person's head, it is THEIR knowledge and THEIR responsibility as to what to do with it.
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
thanks for talking to me about this, by the way -- it's helping me to neatly tuck in any loose ends of my thought-tapestry. ;-)
darkpool ══╣╠══
I agree with most of this but I don't agree with telling a friend another friend was talking about them behind their back. There isn't much that pisses me off more then that kind of behavior. If my so called friend doesn't have the guts to tell me something then their opinion to me isn't worth hearing, and certainly not from someone else. To em it's so reminiscent of middle school girls "guess what so and so said about you!" Which of course is not how YOU would mean it but it's one of those things that isn't redeemable by better intentions IMO. Better to tell te first friend that they should take their problems to the friend they have rpoblems with or not talk about it at all, or just defend your friend and say you doubt such a thing would be true because it's out of charecter. It's probably a situation by situation thing, there are probably some people who would prefer you tell them but I would tend to think those people worry to much about the opinions of others.
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
I don't mean repeating word for word. I mean saying "so-n-so is saying something about you that I don't agree with, I want you to know that I have spoken up for you" or something similar.

I think a person has a right to know if someone they trust is not trustworthy.
darkpool ══╣╠══
I guess, I'd still rather not hear it. I know people better than that before I'd trust them and if I didn't trust them I don't really care what they say about me. If it's true there's no point denying it, if it's not true that it usually doesn't matter. (thought there could be certain sitaution, like a work situation or something.) I guess if you my friend felt there was a compelling reason that I really needed to know, I just don't feel that I usually would need to know, at least not from someone else.
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
okay, I'll remember that in your case. ;-) Though now that I think on it, this really applies more to people who trust easily, because people who are more cautious, like you said, don't tend to BE in that situation.
darkpool ══╣╠══
Yeah that definetly makes sense, and if I had a very trusting friend I could see that situation potentially occuring where I might feel it was beneficial that they know.
And I'm definetly not the easily trusting type! Which has it's pros and cons. I usually know a person very well before I let them know much about me. Thought I'm trying to do this less, one reason being that it keeps me from meeting other people like me! If they're waiting for me to self reveal and I'm waiting for them to self reveal we may never get to know each other. Plus I think I need to let some things be ok for people to know, if that makes sense... So I'm totally off topic now. lol.
woah_the_kettle ══╣╠══
Hm. I think the only time its okay to talk behind someones back is when you are sort of doing it to try and kind of figure out how you feel about it sort of thing, with the exception that you aren't airing out the person's dirty laundry. But often, I have to talk through my feelings with another person before I can realize "oh! okay, that is actually how I feel, lets try this again" And THEN I can confront the person if I actually have a problem with them, but more often, the problem I thought I had with them is actually a problem I had with me, and doesn't particularly involve them, though I am not good at keeping my mouth shut about shit and will usually talk to the person anyway and be like "oh hey sorry for being a bitch about whatever earlier I figured it out and I don't have a problem with you, but actually I suck!" Anyway I don't know how you feel about discussion behavior on the principle of figuring out your own mind when it involves other people, but thats my stance on it.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
yes, exactly. I think when you are coming at it from an angle of intending on talking to the person and working it out, and you're just trying to get advice on HOW to approach it, that is completely different. but it should still be with only a VERY few, very trusted people, and confrontation should definitely happen afterwards.

So basically I TOTALLY agree and now I will have to try and re-word my post to make that a little clearer. I had said "The one exception is if a friend says 'I need your advice on this, I want to approach so-n-so but am not sure how'." I think I'll add in a bit.
verviana ══╣╠══
good for you! you have big fat principles about honesty and i don't disagree with any of them. it's cool that you're willing to be outspoken about it.
belenen ══╣wild╠══
XD thanks!
sabr ══╣misc : nutter╠══
Usually, if someone says something about someone else, I just shoot them in the foot, and then run around in happy circles cackling. Because I'm a nutter nobody, didn't you know!? They can't see me anyway.

(I'll write a real entry in response to this. But not tonight. Tonight, I can't stop laughing to think straight. And by the time you get this comment in your email, you'll know why.)
belenen ══╣amused╠══
*snickerfit* :D

and hey! I'm still waiting on that response to this!
sabr ══╣╠══
I think I meant this entry.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.