Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three Ways to Stop a Gossip Fest

Recently I was talking with a young woman who was saying she heard lots of sermons against sins like drunkeness, using illegal drugs, and even smoking, but she said, "It seems like gossip hurts a lot more people and is just as bad a sin, but I don't hear people preaching against that.

"In fact, when some of us get together with some non-believers, the gossip is thick! It's a bad testimony to the non-Christians, and I don't know how to stop from hearing it or stop them from gossiping."

It was interesting to me because the Titus 2 Alive! ministry at our local church has been reflecting on the qualities Paul tells Titus that the women should develop and a recent one we talked about "not malicious gossips". One of the questions that came up was, "How do you stop a conversation that has turned into gossip?"

I think some of the conversation starters that I have written for this blog could help; here's how:

1. Have a question ready. You could go through the conversation starter questions that I have written, and choose a couple to memorize before you go to a gathering where you are afraid there might be gossip. They could be simple things like "What's something on your bucket list?" or "What's something you've done to take yourself out of your comfort zone?" When the conversation starts to become gossip--and there's a fine line about telling people news about others and telling news that might make someone look bad--then change the subject with one of these questions. Just throw it out there! 

2. Have a pile of questions. If you plan the get together you get to organize what happens. Then you can have a pile or basket full of these conversation starting questions on cards or pieces of paper, questions like "What current event has intrigued you recently?" or "If you were going to take a survey, what question would you like to ask people?"

Tell everyone that tonight instead of just talking you are going to take turns asking these questions. I find it's best to clue someone in ahead of time who will enjoy this and ask them to go first. Tell them to pick a card and read the question. Then they can answer the question if they want or just tell the others, "I'd like to hear what you have to say." 

This way the conversation gets going on a different level. When conversation runs out on that topic, someone else gets to choose a card and read a question. 

Another way to do this is to pass the basket of questions around and have everyone choose one. This way they have time to think about what they might say in answer to their question and to get excited about it. Be sure to make it known that others can answer a question after it has been read. After all, you want a conversation, not just a Q&A.

3. BYOQ--Have them bring their own questions.  This takes a little bit of explaining ahead of time, but it can be a lot of fun, too. My friend and I call this "Conversation Matters." We have five or six friends over and explain that they should bring a question that they'd like to hear others' opinions on. It can be light hearted like, "What is a job you hope you never have?" or helpful like, "What is an activity you do that you find restorative?" or deeper like "I've been thinking about girls who are trapped in the sex trade, and wondering if there are practical ways I could help them."

Each person gets a chance to ask their question, and they can give a little background information on why they were thinking about this if they want. Then everyone can talk about the question together.

My friends and acquaintances and I have had a lot of fun with all these ideas and it keeps our conversation on a higher level. 

How do you stop a gossip fest?

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For printable conversation starters follow these links:
Conversation Starter Cards 1
Conversation Starter Cards 2
Conversation Starter Cards 3
For 50 more printable conversation cards, click here.
And even 50 more click here.
For trivia question cards, click here.
For end of year conversation starter cards click here.

And for special conversations for married couples click here.
For 44 spiritual conversation starters click here.

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