A Tip For Talking Behind Someone's Back
July 12, 2016 by VIA Institute on Character ·
Recently, I ran into an acquaintance and we stopped to have a quick chat. We talked about a few different things and during the course of the conversation I mentioned how kind and considerate my mother-in-law is. She had recently taken a day off of work just to pick me up from the airport after my vacation. I had thanked her, but it wasn’t until that conversation, with someone else, that I had really realized how much she had gone out of her way to do something nice for me.
Well, fast forward a few days and I come to find out that my “positive gossip” had gotten back to my mother-in-law. She and my husband also happened to bump into this acquaintance and my complimentary words were relayed back to her. My husband said that his mom was “beaming” after hearing the praise I had given her.
As I reflected on this, I thought about how easy it was to turn “talking about someone” into a chance to “spot strengths” AND how good it felt! So I decided to challenge myself to practice this “positive gossiping” for the next few days and I want you to try it too. Here is the tip/challenge: for the next week, make a concerted effort to compliment someone on their character strengths behind their back and watch the impact this has on you, personally, and on your relationships.
Why Try It?
1. It will make you feel good. Have you ever heard the quote, “no one ever felt bad after saying something kind”? Well, it’s true. Be mindful of the conversations that you engage in, and practice magnifying other people’s strengths. One of the best things about character strengths is they elevate the person without diminishing others.
2. Strengthens your relationships with the people you are talking to and the people you are talking about. Choosing to talk about someone’s strengths, as opposed to their shortcomings, will make you more trustworthy and likable to the people you are conversing with. They’ll recognize your humility and they won’t be concerned that you will talk negatively about them in their absence. And, if the comments get back to the person you are talking about, as they did in my story about my mother-in-law, the person will feel more connected to you and appreciated.
3. You’ll become the recipient of good buzz. What goes around, comes around. As you spread good gossip about others, you’ll start to notice other people talking about your character strengths. Your character strengths are what is best in you and help you build a successful and fulfilling life. So let them talk! And remember, you can access your Strengths Profile at anytime from your VIA account and get your personalized VIA Me and VIA Pro Reports to learn more.
Learn Strategies to Help Others Improve Their Relationships
Building positive and healthy relationships is central to human well-being. Some research even tells us that it is the single most important factor in determining whether a person is happy. Now is your chance to nurture your close relationships and/or help others improve their relationships with guidance from our expert character strength coaches, Drs. Ryan Niemiec and Donna Mayerson.
Positive Relationships and Character Strengths, we present a 5-element model to use in your life, or in your work with others, to help create more meaningful bonds. The strategies you will learn in this course will be lifelong lessons. You will be equipped with relationship-boosting tips to use or share as you meet new people, grow with current loved ones and help others through relationship struggles. Learn more here.
-Kelly Aluise, VIA’s Communication Specialist