When someone slanders you, they're saying something that attacks or damages your reputation or character. It often takes the form of gossip or someone talking behind your back. Gossip and slander is hurtful no matter who it comes from, but it can be especially painful when coming from a friend or someone close to you. While every situation is different, several general relationship and communication strategies can help you face gossip and overcome the painful emotions it causes.
Check the Facts for Truth
Before going further, take a deep breath and honor yourself with a moment of honesty. Ask yourself if there is anything in your friend's gossip or slander that's accurate. Those angry or hurt emotions you're experiencing may be you feeling defensive because there's an element of truth in your friend's accusations. Accept responsibility where needed, and have the courage to change and correct faults as necessary. Not only does this remove the underlying source of the gossip or slander, but it also hopefully keeps this from happening again in the future.
Stand and Deliver
When people are slandering your reputation and gossiping with others, it often takes place in a hush-hush manner behind your back. Face your friend head-on and confront the source of your problems. Pretending it's not happening, or responding by making similar remarks about your friend, simply feeds the vicious gossip cycle. Instead, set up a time where you and your friend can talk alone. Focus the conversation on actions and not on your friend's character. Communicate clearly what specific actions hurt you. For example, say, "I was hurt by what you said and I would like those conversations to stop," instead of, "You're a bad friend for saying what you said." This keeps your friend from feeling attacked, and helps you both move toward healthy resolution.
Rise Above the Conflict
Finding healing and closure for your hurt feelings regarding your friend's comments requires both external and internal resolution. External resolution involves talking with your friend and dealing with the conflict. Internal resolution is looking within you and finding strength to rise above the situation. People can't make you feel certain things unless you give them emotional control to make you feel that way. You are in control of how you react to situations and words. Feel empowered to recognize that you can't make everyone happy, including your friends or family who might bad talk you. Recognize your strengths and the positive things in your life, and rise above your friend's hurtful slander. "When others are cruel or mean, it is about them and whatever is going on for them," says therapist Dr. Karyl McBride in "Psychology Today." It's not about you.
Guard Your Borders
If your friend continues to damage your character with hurtful words, you may have no option but to limit your exposure to this toxic friendship. In these cases, it's all about protecting yourself by drawing up firm boundaries between you and this person. If necessary, cease contact with this individual. This guards your heart and mind from hearing the painful words this person is saying, and also reduces the ability for this person to know your life and therefore to talk about it.
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- Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network: Libel, Slander, Defamation Online - What's the Difference?
- Psychology Today: What To Do When Someone Hurts You
- Canadian Living: 6 Steps to Ending a Toxic Friendship
- TechRepublic: 10 Tips for Dealing with Workplace Gossip
- Psychology Today: Do I Have To Be Nice To People Who Are Mean To Me?
- Psychology Today: Dealing With People Who Drain You
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.