I was scared to leave the table

We have all been around people who openly denigrate others in front of us. For some reason, they feel by putting others down, it elevates them. In actuality, the opposite occurs. It shines a negative light on the speaker.

An old colleague framed the issue nicely, when he related to me the title of this post.  Let me offer some context. He was at a business dinner with several senior colleagues, including a new executive. Apparently, she liked to talk about people, so as each person left table to go to the restroom, she would express the negatives she had heard about that person seeking concurrence. After seeing her do this with three people, my colleague said, “I was scared to leave the table.”

He wisely assumed, if she talks about others, she would also talk about him. This is not a very endearing trait regardless of one’s gender. It is even more true when a person in leadership does it. Namecalling, denigrating, bullying and pitting people against each other is not leadership.

Please remember my colleagues’ words. If someone talks about others in your presence, take it to the bank, he or she will do the same about you. What should you do – don’t take the bait? Life coach Wayne Dyer would suggest you even defend the absent. At a minimum, try to change the topic. But, picture that person and how you would feel.


11 thoughts on “I was scared to leave the table

  1. I’ve worked with people like that, and just last night my daughter, who is a Nurse-Manager for a Urology group, was telling me about one of her staff who is a perpetual gossip, always talking about others. As I told her, people like that are bad for morale … the sooner gone the better. What makes people like that? Boredom, a craving for attention.

    • Jill, you are so right about what they do for morale. I think it is more ego, than boredom. The denigrator wants to hold court. And, like a bully, the critic often does not like to be criticized. Keith

      • You may be right … it just seems that if you have a full life, you don’t have either the time or the energy to worry about how other people are living theirs.

      • Jill, you would think that would be so. Yet, some of the talkers I come across include in their busy mission to be a busybody. I had another colleague who was very busy, very successful, and very proud, yet I stopped going to lunch with him because he was consistently running down someone. I got very weary of his doing that. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: The talkers appear in all parts of life. My wife is a great listener, so she tends to attract people who like to opine. Their opinions would include gossiping about people or recurringly sharing their side of an argument with someone else. It truly wears my wife out, so she has to limit time with them or, in some cases, stop seeing them.

    I had an old colleague who would had a direct, but diplomatic way of stopping that conversation. He would say “That is between you and him (her).” And, that is a true statement.

  3. Dear Keith,

    Your friend’s words are so wise. I once ended a friendship over this issue. Moral of the story, someone who has this habit, does not make a good friend. Initially, I was frank that I wasn’t comfortable with her gossip. But she couldn’t help herself. I call these peoples pot stirrers. They will create discontent wherever the go.

    Hugs, Gronda

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