Monday, October 31, 2011

Dealing with Nosy Gossips

Dear Madame L,

Some people in my family aren't exactly fitting into the exact mold that some other people in my family think everyone should be like. The "other people" sometimes ask me questions about the "some people," as if they're just lovingly concerned for all of us, but I suspect the "other people" are not really as sympathetic as they want to appear to be; in fact, I know that they gossip among themselves about me, the "some people," and all kinds of family issues. I love these "other people" dearly, but I want to protect my "some people," who depend on my love and loyalty.

How can I answer the snoopy, gossipy questions without betraying my "some people" while still maintaining harmony with the "other people"?

(Yes, I know this sounds very vague. I'm making it vague so that instead of answering my very specific question about my very specific family problem, you'll see this as a chance to answer a question which, I happen to know, a lot of families are asking themselves.)


Tired of Nosy Gossips

Dear Tired of Gossips,

Madame L thanks you for asking your question in such a general way. Madame L knows a lot of "some people" and their family members who are faced with this dilemma. 

Madame L has a very simple solution to offer, which she will phrase in the form of some questions:

Why do you care about what the "other people" think? Why do you feel it necessary to maintain harmony with the "other people" kind of people, the people who ask about things that are none of their business and then gossip about those things?  Who matters to you more: your "some people," or the "other people"?

Madame L suggests that harmony with those "other people" --- and with any people who snoop and gossip --- is not at all important. Madame L suspects that people who are dense or snoopy enough to probe into your family's private affairs are doing a little social engineering, knowing that you're a kind hearted soul who doesn't want to hurt their feelings, while they themselves don't give a flaming flarg about your feelings.

So, here are some sample responses to their questions:

'I'm so glad to hear you're interested in my "some people." I bet they would love to hear from you. Would you like to ask them those questions yourself?'

'I know you'll understand when I say that I just hate to talk about people behind their backs. Please give my "some people" a call.'

'Oh, my "some people" are doing fine. They're going through the usual growing-up, just like we've all done. Now, how are YOUR "some people" doing?'

'You know, I feel so uncomfortable answering that question.' (Then pause for as long as it takes for the "other people" to get it.

Dear Readers, if you have any other suggestions for "Tired," please feel free to share them with all of us.


Madame L

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