Gossip separates friends, breaks trust, and makes a resolution difficult
The story is told of a peasant with a troubled conscience who went to a monk far advice. He said he had circulated a vile story about a friend, only to find out the story was not true. “If you want to make peace with your conscience,” said the monk, “you must fill a bag with chicken down, go to every dooryard in the village, and drop in each one of them one fluffy feather.”
The peasant did as he was told. Then, he came back to the monk and announced he had done penance for his folly. “Not yet”, replied the monk. “Take your bag to the rounds again and gather up every feather that you have dropped.”
“But the wind must have blown them all away,” said the peasant.
“Yes, my son,” Said the monk, “and so it is with gossip. Words are easily dropped, but no matter how hard you try, you can never get them back again.”
If someone gossips about another person, ask him, “Can I quote you on this?” Only a few, it seems, desire to be quoted. You can become a part of the solution rather than part of the problem by telling the concern individual, “Either go back to the person and address it alone, or both of us will go the person and address the situation.” Either way, one must follow through until resolution is achieved for the sake of the relationship and the rest of the community.
Source: RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE by Orrin Woodward