Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people.
— Eleanor Roosevelt
Gossip has no place in a business and it has no place in a home. In his book EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey tells the story of how he arrived at a “no gossip” policy in his workplace. Gossip is when you talk negatively about somebody in their absence. If you have some constructive criticism for somebody, go to them with it. Don’t discuss it with others behind their back. At Dave’s place, you get one opportunity to make this mistake, you will get an education on why talking people down to others is a really bad idea, and the next time it happens, you are gone. The rule is negatives go up (to the people who can do something about them), and positives go down.
Most parents have unconditional love for their children, and misguided as it may be, some invite their children to come to them soon after the wedding to “help” through any rough spots in the marriage. “Come, tell me about how horrible your new spouse is. You know I never thought they were good enough for you in the first place.” Now it does not all go like that. Some parents understand what it means to respect their children’s boundaries.
By the same token, no parent should ever be disrespected to their child, even in a divorce situation, maybe especially in a divorce situation. Children are not pawns in a chess game or any game for that matter. Parents, like physicians, should subscribe to primum non nocere, “First, do no harm”. Yes, we can avoid doing permanent, irreparable damage to our children.
In their book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend discuss a phenomenon called triangulation. “Person A is angry at Person B. Person A does not tell Person B. Person A calls Person C and gripes bout Person B. Person C enjoys Person A’s confidence and listens whenever A wants to play the triangle game.”
To complicate matters, “Person B, feeling lonely, calls C, and, in passing, mentions the conflict with A. Person C becomes the confidant of B as well as A. Persons A and B have not resolved their conflict, and C has two ‘friends’.”
“Triangulation is the failure to resolve a conflict between two persons and the pulling in of a third to take sides.” Prevention is the best medicine. If somebody comes to you to complain about somebody else, refuse to participate. “I see what you are saying, but shouldn’t you really take that up with /enter name of offending person/.” To promote a healthy atmosphere within the family or in the workplace, stop the gossip.