Being the subject of gossip can be a frustrating and upsetting position. Whether created by real actions or malicious rumors, gossip can do serious damage to relationships, reputations, and group dynamics. Though nothing can fully prevent a person from becoming the subject of gossip, following a few basic precautions can help reduce the likelihood that the situation will occur. Don't share too much information with people you don't know you can trust, avoid engaging in gossip yourself, and think about how your behavior might appear to others.
One of the most important ways to stop or prevent gossip is to be circumspect with private information. Sharing problems or worries with friends and families is healthy and understandable, but it is important to tell private information only to those that can be trusted to keep it quiet. If a relative or friend is known to have a tattling tongue, it may be best to keep conversations with him or her to polite, public-appropriate subjects. It may also help to conduct private business only in appropriate forums; having a screaming argument with a spouse over the phone at work is certain to inspire talk among colleagues.
Many etiquette experts cite the old maxim of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" when discussing the problem of gossip. Developing a reputation as a gossiper is likely to leave a person open to the same treatment; others may feel less inclined to be protective of the private information of a person known to spread rumors and tales. By declining to engage in gossiping at work or in social circles, a person can help develop an atmosphere in which that type of talk is unwelcome. Gaining a reputation as a circumspect and respectful person may engender the same behavior in others.
Though this may not always be possible or advisable, one of the best ways to avoid becoming the subject of gossip is by adhering to the rules of society. Most gossiping involves actions that are considered scandalous, immoral, or inappropriate in some way. Choosing to fly in the face of social tradition may be necessary in many situations, but it will tend to cause talk. While most etiquette experts stress that it is important to stick to personal principles regardless of societal rules, a general attempt to follow customs and standards can help reduce the chance of becoming the subject of gossip.
Unfortunately, some victims of gossipers are innocent or maligned bystanders, caught in the trap of other people's scandalous behavior or false rumors. In this case, the only options may be to confront the shameless chatterers in an attempt to shame them away from their behavior, or to simply ignore the situation. The outcome of either of these tactics may depend on the situation; confronting gossipers may simply throw fuel on the fire in some cases, while in others it may make the tattlers feel sufficiently apologetic to cease their behavior.