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When people talk behind your back, it's normal to get angry.
It's common to want to defend yourself and get even.
When this happens to me, my brain jumps to the worst-case scenarios and most toxic assumptions.
What were they thinking?
How could they do that?
They don't know what they're talking about.
But then I remember that I do the same thing at times.
We're all human, and talking behind each other's backs, even if it's not typically productive, is an opportunity to test reality to see if others are feeling the same way.
Now, instead of jumping to conclusions, I ask myself important questions before I act.
People Talking Behind Your Back- Questions to Ask Yourself
One of the first questions I ask myself is this one:
Could there be any truth to what the person--or people--are saying?
When you discover that others are talking behind your back, your brain immediately jumps into defensive mode.
It does this to try to protect you.
But no learning happens in this mental state.
It's only when you can pull yourself back out of the depths of dark thoughts that you can learn.
So I ask myself again:
Could there be any truth to this?
More often than not, there is.
And it's the truth that hurts.
Comments without truth whatsoever blow past you, but the truth sticks, even if it's only the tiniest bit of it.
So what do you do with this painful realization?
Here's what I do--I ask myself more questions.
- Is there anything I can do about this right now?
- SHOULD I do anything about this right now?
- Is this a pattern of behavior or is this a one-off incident that I can learn from?
- Has this person ever made any comments like this to me before?
- Could this be saying more about the other person than it's saying about me?
Asking these questions steadily gets my brain out of defensive mode and puts me into a more thoughtful frame of mind.
I also ask others for more data.
What usually happens is that, after I collect more data, I see the situation in a brighter light.
And I realize that comments made behind my back are not a huge deal when I understand the larger context.
"People ARE Talking Behind My Back!" - Taking Action
Be careful and read this very carefully.
It's crucial that you do the work to check in with yourself before you take action.
If you learn that someone has talked behind your back and you immediately rush to respond, you're not much better than a dog chasing after a bone.
Your brain is an incredibly complex object, and while its natural tendency is to warn you and protect you from danger, it also has enhanced features to position you for long-term success.
So get out of the first-order future, and move yourself into second and third-order consequences.
Ask yourself not only "What would happen if I do this?" but "What would happen after that happens if I do that?"
Questions can be your best friend.
Because the unfortunate reality is this:
People will always talk behind each other's backs.
It's human nature.
And if you respond without thinking, you'll run into situations you're not prepared for.
But if you stop to ask questions, you'll have more data to work with, you'll predict better, and you'll be better prepared for whatever happens.
Remember, you don't have to respond to inevitable events in certain, predictable ways.
You have the ability to think.
You have the ability to prepare.
When people talk behind your back, talk to yourself.
Do it with compassion.
Bring your thoughts and feelings out into the open.
And then ask questions.
You'll make your best decisions that way.