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What's the best way to deal with someone who speaks critically of others?

VanilliVanilli Veteran
edited May 2015 in NewBuddhist.com
I have a friend who I am quite close to who often discusses the faults of others. What's the best way to address this behaviour? I find it negatively effects me and conflicts with my feelings of openess and compassion and my desire to keep the right speech precept.

They don't do it in a petty, snide or incredibly hostile way it's more negative observations. This is a good friend and I'm not sure how to address it. It's not like it's really nasty or anything - and I feel kind of uncomfortable because it's like me dictating how they should act.

Comments

  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    Maybe you could say something positive about the people being discussed.

    sova
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    Tell him or her your a Buddhist and its not right speech to gossip, that's what I said to my girlfriend when she was having a go at a friend the other day. She stopped.

    Davidlobster
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Maybe this is your friend's way of telling you that SHE is having a problem dealing with THAT friend....an indirect way of asking for advice or something?

    Shoshin
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Vanilli said:
    I have a friend who I am quite close to who often discusses the faults of others. What's a compassionate way to address this behaviour? I find it negatively effects me and conflicts with my feelings of openess and compassion and my desire to keep the right speech precept.

    They don't do it in a petty, snide or incredibly hostile way it's more negative observations. This is a good friend and I'm not sure how to address it.

    1. Explain that it makes you uncomfortable discussing others shortcommings.
    2. Give apositive alternative..."Lets talk about ... instead!"
    3. Give your friend positive feedback. It is possible E is racking down on erself quietly as much as racking down on others verbally.

    Tic tac toe...there you go...

    Rowan1980
  • howhow Veteran

    @Vanilli

    Have you considered saying directly to this friend, exactly what you said to us in your opening post?

    Hint...timing is important!

    ZenniZero
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @how said:

    Have you considered saying directly to this friend, exactly what you said to us in your opening post?

    Hint...timing is important!

    Damn, good suggestion. I was thinking of persecution and dharma jihad as a tactic ...

    In the dervish Buddhist traditition (Buddha Akbar) that I was thrown out of for criticising myself in my Prophet Form (Peace and Blessings Upon Me) ... we use an intermediary form and make fun of the intermediary known as Nasrudin.

    Or if very skilful we ascribe critical characteristics to ourself and ask for advice on solving our difficulties ...
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malamatiyya

    Hope that is helpful. If not maybe your friend can think of a better solution? B)

    dhammachickMigyur
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Lonely_Traveller that was a tactic a Buddhist colleague used. Sorry I can no longer engage in criticising/judging others ... :)

    TravellerJohnMac
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran

    Listen compassionately. That is what friends are for. =)

    lobsterShoshinZenninamarupa
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Vanilla
    I think @Daozen makes a very good point, just be a sounding board so your friend can vent their frustration for a while, it will soon pass....You could see it as practising patience & tolerance.... "Your worst enemy could be your best friend and your best friend your worst enemy !"

    lobsterZenniWalkernamarupa
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Well said @Shoshin I regularly sit with my favourite demons, some of who are thinking of going on Facebook to gossip about LucyFur the well known celebrity demon ...

    Allowing others the space to become aware of their behavour is hard. Just as it is hard to recognise our own faults ...

    ZenniWalker
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Hamsaka said:

    But something interesting happened. I sat and listened quietly WHILE feeling exactly what I was feeling AND remaining politely listening. She got it. She started correcting herself -- once in a while :D . That's good enough. We communicate in many more ways than words.

    Ah ha. Good tactic. B)

    It is often as good as we can do. Quite hard as you say.
    As many of us know it is quite a challenge to sit with ourself, let alone someone else ...

    Letting Be (also available as a Beatles Song) is part of letting go, relaxation under tension and accepting.

    This process can be found in a diversity of spiritual practices. In yoga we allow the stretch and its sensations. In meditation we accept the presence of Monkey Mind. In mindfulness we become aware without distraction and so on.

    Zenni
  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    One way to deal with strangers that may say something negative is to ignore them, and not let little things like what they say affect us so much. Even though this person is a friend and not a stranger, I believe a similar approach would apply here. Ignore what they have to say, and enjoy their company as best as you can. Perhaps change the subject and invite them to do something positive like go on retreats or have a group meditation session. I'm sure their is good merit in inviting others to do something skilful, and the subject of the conversation would perhaps at least change to activities instead of faults of others.
  • That's a tough one. Did she knows you're a buddhist? You can start by sharing the first precept which is non-harming. Telling negatives to other people causes harm, not just for the people being criticize, but often times it does more harm to her. It is just a mirror for what is inside of her that manifested through saying negative statements.

    Another approach maybe would be to just keep silent, just to be there for the experience and let the tension goes down. There is power in letting things run its course, because that situation is very hard to sustain, and eventually - she will get tired of it. It is important for her to know that you know that it is not healthy.

    Lastly, there is a teaching of the Buddha that says: Speak well of others - Not their faults.
    Maybe that is the place to start. Hope it helps.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Irate customers. The come and go, but more often than not, they stay and rant.
    You see, when a customer thinks they're not getting good service, their world falls apart, life is not worth living, they're facing the biggest tragedy they've ever encountered and they're not happy, nossir...It all hinges on the phrase "Of course we'll do whatever you want madam!" (sorry, 9.5 times out of 10, it's a woman....)

    Naturally, we can't always do what the customer wants. It's not a question of stubbornness or intransigence; sometimes, it's just not within our remit, or customer service regulations (Which strictly follow consumer practice law). Sometimes, it's because we are under no legal obligation to do what the customer would like. Like, give a full refund for a pair of shoes purchased in 2013, or exchange a pair of trousers which have unquestionably, obviously and patently been worn for a day or two ("Honestly, I just tried them on quickly....").... Yes, well, the fabric at knee-level is bulging, there are fixed creases in the groin and back-knee areas and a couple of minor stains, one of which is in an area where, frankly, staining is distasteful....so she can't have a refund, AND we know she's lying.
    But do we get irate?

    No. We appreciate that obviously, she is not content with the trousers, and we very much appreciate they don't go with her home décor, but sadly, we are unable to offer any form of solution here.... The supervisor ostensibly leaves to consult a Higher Authority, leaving me with the message, "Stay with the customer, I'll be back in a mo'...."

    'Stay with the Customer' to me, is a code for 'pacify her'. It's not an accepted Company code, but that's what I hear.
    So I make suitable soothing noises... "I am so sorry Madam...I know it's frustrating..... I wish there was more I could do, but I'm merely an Assistant and don't have the authority..... I must say though, I can't help remarking how lovely the jumper/scarf/necklace/hat/coat (Whatever!) you're wearing looks... It's very attractive...."

    The object of my exercise is to try to make the client feel better about herself. It very rarely fails.
    You will get the odd occasional rare client that just shrugs it off, such is their temper, (you can tell that type, before you even open your mouth...!) but mostly, empathy and compliments, diffuse the situation.
    And many of them, having been refused any form of refund, exchange, voucher, compensation or satisfaction - then go round the store and buy other stuff!

    M&S customers are a rum and unique lot!

    Rowan1980
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    But there is a lot of lousy service out there. Last Monday I stopped at a place to get my oil changed. They said it would be about an hour before they could start on my car, but that was okay, I could walk down to the bookstore, then to the electronics store, which I did. I got back an hour later, they still hadn't started. 45 minutes later they still hadn't started. But I don't lose my temper. I simply went up the counter and asked for my keys back. And the girl at the counter looked at me as if I was crazy, as if it made any sense to wait 2 hours to even start a simple oil change. When what was really happening was poor management. How long does it take to write up an order? Maybe 5 minutes max. How long does it take to do an oil change or tire rotation, etc. 15 minutes or more. So how are they set up -- 3 people writing up orders, 2 doing the physical labor. Just stupid.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
  • tibellustibellus Veteran
    You could ask them if they would say the same things directly to the person(s) they are gossiping about. If they say "yes", ask them how they would say these things without hurting others' feelings, and how would they suggest to the gossipped person to change their behaviour. If they say "no", ask them to put themselves into others' shoes and to imagine that they just found out someone is saying hurtful things about them. No matter what they choose, both options can be an exercise of empathy and compassion, and could help them understand that what they are doing is hurting not only others, but themselves too.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Run away! ;)

    ShoshinRowan1980lobster
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    But there is a lot of lousy service out there. Last Monday I stopped at a place to get my oil changed. They said it would be about an hour before they could start on my car, but that was okay, I could walk down to the bookstore, then to the electronics store, which I did. I got back an hour later, they still hadn't started. 45 minutes later they still hadn't started. But I don't lose my temper. I simply went up the counter and asked for my keys back. And the girl at the counter looked at me as if I was crazy, as if it made any sense to wait 2 hours to even start a simple oil change. When what was really happening was poor management. How long does it take to write up an order? Maybe 5 minutes max. How long does it take to do an oil change or tire rotation, etc. 15 minutes or more. So how are they set up -- 3 people writing up orders, 2 doing the physical labor. Just stupid.

    Oh, I remember THOSE days, fer sure @vinlyn. But now, I've found some mechanics who are real angels, oh yes they are -- it's one of those drive-thru places, and there are tons of them out here but these guys have been so wonderful to me -- if I have Anything wrong, they will fix it or direct me to a shop that can. It used to be pure hell to get any respect from some of the places I used to go.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Shoshin said: The customer's always 'right'

    Thankfully, not always, no.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Very true, Federica. The next day I tried a new shop. 15 minutes and done. They didn't try to add anything. And they even pointed out some work that needed to be done "before long" that they didn't handle.

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