When I was a young woman, I heard a story that warned against gossip. Imagine, if you will,having said something false, inaccurate, or just plain mean about someone..., realizing the error of your ways and wanting to make it right, you were told that you could make it right but that you had to follow a certain plan in reclaiming your words. You were instructed to go to every household that heard your harmful words and lay a white feather on the doorstep. Once you have completed this task, you were instructed to then return to each doorstep and gather every single feather...   

"But how can I do this? Even the mildest of winds will have scattered the feathers, making it impossible for me to recover every one." The response rings harsh in your ears, "Exactly. And reclaiming the gossip you have shared would be just as easy." Words are very difficult to retract, but sometimes we must humble ourselves enough, recognizing error or a falsehood that has been shared, hoping for the impossible, regret hangs heavy.

Each day, we can find ourselves in a position where littering would be easy and also may make us look better in the eyes of a potential or current client, a superstar candidate, a business partner, friend or spouse. How we deal with and dispense the litter determines our character. I did a little research and interestingly enough, the only two things that can be released (aka "littered") on a California freeway that will not lead to a violation or arrest are water and feathers. Seriously, it's true. Water and feathers.

So, when facing a moment of weakness, where degrading someone else might make you feel better or strengthen your case as the best service provider, resist. Instead of pointing to someone else's weakness, deliver on your strengths. Prove your worthiness by knowing and meeting the needs of the client/candidate. The tarnish on someone else is no match for your own shine.

Additionally, should you be the one to whom gossip or harsh words are directed, remember a California highway and the "allowable litter." Water and feathers. Feathers are uniquely qualified to resist dirt and water damage. Like water off a duck's back.

© by rayannethorn

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rayanne, i really like that your posts are built around positive and decent themes. i might add they inspire introspection, to some degree. and to top it all, your writing style is disarmingly unoffensive. thanks for the writing and keep it coming.
Rayanne. Great post and a great take on the old Rabbinic tale about gossip and how it spreads. The story is recounted for young people in a book by Madonna called Mr. Peabody's Apples. I concur with the idea of building up your own strengths as opposed to tearing down someone else with your take on their weaknesses. Obviously a client will even appreciate you more for not bad-mouthing anyone else. I often will even feed back to the client what I know of a competitor's strengths (if they don't conflict with my own). I have always believe that while spreading good news does not travel as far or as fast as bad news (or gossip) it is always worth the effort.
Why waste valuable time talking about someone else. Any mention of a competitor or political opponent acknowleges their existance.

Gossip and derogatory comments are in my opinion best deflected by quickly saying, "That's interesting, what do you think they would say about you"? That seems to cause a lot of silence.

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