Why are people so quick to believe bad things they hear about good people?

So, a bit of a story time – a good friend of mine visited me recently; I had not seen her for while and was happy to see her when she dropped over at mine after work. While we were catching up, the discussion moved on to another person we knew whom we had not seen for a while. She had seen this other person recently and we both know this person had a bad habit of bringing people up and she would never speak about them in the best terms. My visitor then told me that after dodging conversations about others all night, this person asked if my friend had seen me recently – when my friend answered negatively, this person wanted to start a conversation about how I had been ignoring them. And yes, I was ignoring them because they had been part of messing up some of my relationships and reputation because they always went and told people bad things about me that were not true – unfortunately, the people she spoke to believed the bad things she said. So to protect my peace, I had decided to limit my contact with this person. Comments that I had passed about certain situations had reached certain people and when these comments got to these people, they were embellished and not necessarily what I had said. We have all been in situations where we may have acted out of character or said something due to emotions or being in a certain mood – however, if there are people around who will always make a habit of using these moments against you, then there is a need to evaluate the relationship with them. 

There have been a few incidents the past couple of years that had made me remove myself from certain social circles and friendships and one particular incident that had made me evaluate a lot of things was a statement someone I respected a lot made to me. Last May, I wrote about how someone had shamed me for being single by going to someone we both knew to tell them that I was behaving out of character towards them after they married. To be honest, this incident hurt me more than I can say – were the tables turned, I would never have relayed what was discussed. However, after all these things happened, I realised, that I was not respected by these people. While I wrote about how this issue made me feel, someone decided to use the article I wrote to escalate the situation further. Instead of the people involved asking for dialogue to discuss how their actions or lack of had made me feel, they got offended that I was offended by how they treated me. However, one statement that was made that made me evaluate everything was when this person told me that I had no idea what people called her to tell her about me and she graciously overlooked it all! Wow! So after the conversation, I replayed everything and wondered what I had done exactly for people to be so interested to go to someone to complain – plus, I am an adult and I owed no one any explanation for how I led my life, but I was curious and furious all the same. While I thought on this, I found out a couple of people who were busy telling people bad things about me and I was hurt.

One of such people was actually a leader in a social gathering I once frequented- when I found out, I wanted to confront this person, however, I talked myself out of it and cut off all contact with them. I was not going to descend to their level and to be honest, they had never added any value to my life. And then there was someone else whom I met frequently socially – and this person would go back and report everything that happened at social meetings to other people I knew and she was not telling any positive stories. But what hurt the most was how people believed these negative stories without validating them – it got me evaluating my relationships with certain people. If they would so easily believe negative things about me, then I am convinced that they did not really like or respect me. This was difficult to swallow for me – because for some of these people, I had supported them in several ventures they had undertaken and I felt so betrayed. Yes, I am not perfect, but I am also not a bad person – in staying true to my character, I evaluated myself and situations I had put myself in. I decided that some people no longer deserved a place in my life  – my time with them had served it’s purpose and it was time for me to burn those bridges and move on. So while I was minding my business, one of these people who I had known for years and who had been one to always encourage people bringing bad stories about me, went round telling people I did not really care for, about how my standing up for myself had hurt them. So my question was, if I had hurt them, why are they speaking to others and not to me? And that is when it dawned on me – my reputation was being assassinated – however, in my experience, this person lacked integrity and it was only a matter of time before they did the same to the people they were now talking to about me.

I remember speaking to a close friend about what this person was saying and how some how it all got back to me and my friend had some wise words for me. She felt strongly that all these people needed to be removed from my life – she believed strongly that the same people who behaved like they were looking out for my interest by telling me what they heard were actually the source of what was being discussed. She further explained that gossip is a vicious cycle and to break it, people need to make a habit of shutting down conversations that aim to tear others down. I totally agreed with her – I no longer wanted to hear all these conversations that sought to tear me down. As far as I was aware, it was none of my business what these people thought of me and to be honest, I did not want to know. She would also go on to advise that when toxic people could no longer control you, they would try to control how others saw you – I had seen this quote by Jill Blakeway many times and it finally resonated with me. The attack on my reputation seemed unfair but eventually, the truth would come out and I needed to be patient and move on with my life. And lastly, my friend would remind me of how we all claim to not like gossip and yet we enjoy it? Yes – I was part of the problem. I was allowing these conversations around me and I needed to shut them down even if it meant calling people out to their face. If I did not want to hear it, I needed to be bold and tell these people to their face that I did not want to hear what they had to say about others.

I have been guilty of believing bad things about people without validating what was said – now looking at the same thing being done to me, has been an eye opener and I am learning to do better. One such instances happened with people I was very close to; eventually the truth would come out and I found out that conversations were being had about me to the these people too – the person that spread the bad stories in no longer in my life. I asked them why they did what they did and they had no reason. Many relationships never materialised because people went ahead and destroyed the reputation of others before people got to know the victims of these negative talks for themselves. Gossip has become part of society and many tabloid newspaper and sites make money off selling negative stories of famous people. We all enjoy reading these stories without thinking about the impact these stories have on the people the stories are about – however, we all need to be wise. We can’t control conversations that are had around us all the time but I hope we practice this saying “gossip dies at the ears of a wise person”. It’s not everything we hear that needs to be passed on – in most instances, the negative stuff we hear about people are not true anyway.  Let us make a habit of killing negative stories about people as soon as it hits our ears by disregarding them and refusing to pass it on or repeat them.

Gossip dies at the ears of a wise person.

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Thank you for taking time to read, share and comment – let’s continue to share our experiences so we can effect change.

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