Okay, truth time.
Do you talk badly about other people?
I must admit that, even as a somewhat mature Christian, there are times when I talk about other people. But only the ones that annoy me.
Surely there is a clause in the Bible about gossip being acceptable if it is about annoying people.
I have tried to improve this fault of mine with varying success.
Then two kids of mine came home from college for the summer and I noticed something. They don’t talk poorly of others.
I can tell when they want to.
But they don’t.
It’s absolutely gorgeous and I want to be like them.
So I asked them to teach me their thought process.
I loved loved loved their answers. Today I will teach you what 20-year old Mitch taught me.
It’s pretty cool.
Mitchell had a great sophomore year at Conception Seminary. He said there were many reasons for that and said that a handful of pre-theologians really changed the emotional atmosphere at seminary this year.
I first wanted to know what a pre-theologian was. He explained that a “pre-theo” is a guy that comes into seminary with at least a bachelor’s degree. They are mature, thoughtful and balanced.
Father Pat York is a phenomenal priest of the Wichita Diocese and he is currently the Vice-Rector and Dean of Students at Conception.
Father York knew/saw/witnessed that in the small college (under 100 guys) there was ample temptation to bring up another person’s faults when that person wasn’t around.
Father York, in his wisdom, worked closely with the (older) pre-theos and challenged them to make a difference at Conception Seminary, knowing that they’d only be there for two years.
He brought up the temptation to gossip. And Father knocked on the table and said, “If they aren’t at this table, then don’t speak poorly of them.”
Gossip, as we all know, only creates a bad spirit.
So the pre-theologians took up Father’s challenge to make a difference in this realm at Conception Seminary.
And they decided to focus on mealtime, when four to six guys would be seated and talking, a perfect place for meatloaf to be served with a side of slander and a pat of gossip.
So, during that seated time, if a seminarian began talking about another, a pre-theo would knock on the table and simply say, “They aren’t at the table.”
Mitch said it was amazing. AND it was incredibly effective. With the example and guidance of the pre-theos, he learned to talk about guys as if they were sitting at the table.
By the end of the year, if someone would talk about another person, no matter where they were on campus, a guy would knock on whatever material was around, which was the mental reminder/reset that they needed.
I love that so much, don’t you? I love it because once the concept is understood, words are not needed. Just a knock.
I taught it to my other kids.
I followed Fr. York’s example and I simply asked them if they’d be open to a challenge on treating people better.
They said sure.
“Let’s learn to talk about other people as if they were sitting right next to us. And if they aren’t at the table then we don’t talk poorly about them.” I knocked. “That little knock represents this thought: They are not at the table.”
The kids liked the idea. It was actually a respect thing for THEMSELVES. (We all want to be assured that no one will talk about us when we aren’t around.)
Last night one of my children came up to me and started telling me a story about another person. I looked at my child and just peacefully knocked on the kitchen counter. My child stopped mid-sentence, smiled and said, “Whoops!” and that was the end of that.
I also gave all of my children permission to knock for me. I give you permission to knock for me.
Such a simple yet effective tool.
I easily thought of principals, teachers, business leaders and mothers.
What would happen if we’d implement this idea in our classrooms, boardrooms and living rooms?
Knock if You Want To Stop Gossip.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
Finally, for those enrolled in our free summer course, “The Daughter Dare,” we share another powerful technique to break the habit of gossip in Week 5. You will love it.
If you want to learn more, go to this post, The Daughter Dare.