We've all done it. We've all had it done about us and to us about others. I've tried hard over the years to stay away from people who just can't keep their mouths shut and like to spread false information about others. When we lived in West Allis, we had a woman on our block who really enjoyed herself as far as gossiping about everyone - mostly false. We were often the subject of her gossiping because we chose not to associate with her and didn't take any crap from her - others on the block were actually afraid to confront her because they were afraid she would "go after them". Unfortunately, when a gosssiping individual gossips about one person, they do it about others, as well. No one is immune.
I see this type of behavior where I work, in our condo complex and at get togethers with others. Gossiping can hurt a person's feelings; affect their reputation (if the gossiping is false); cause arguments because of incorrect information; and the list goes on and on. Walk away from people like this or just try to change the subject. Of course, realize that because of this, YOU may become the subject of their gossiping!
When our neighbor from the old neighborhood would "meet" a new person that moved into the block, she would quickly fill them in on each and every family who were already living on the block. Most people didn't have the guts to just tell her they were not interested in her coments. Wouldn't it be nice if people could just say - "I want to judge someone on my own after meeting them and getting to know them." Come on people, judge others on what you know personally, not by what others tell you or by what you "think" is so. People don't talk to someone they've never met because of something they heard from someone else. The "stories" that people tell just snowball. How ridiculous!
If I find out that someone is gossiping about me or anyone I care about and the information they are spreading around is incorrect, I will confront that person and I will do it when others are within earshot or nearby so that the facts are correctly stated and addressed. Of course, our old neighbor would always deny ever having said what we had heard and she would just continue on her merry way and continue her gossiping.
I am a firm believer that "what goes around, comes around".
Has your reputation been tarnished because of this? We survived our gossiping neighbor because in the long run, it became somewhat of a joke to us. She was very predictable. Some people learned to "run the other way" when they saw her coming. It was only a matter of time. And soon, others joined me in confronting her and some of her gossiping was muted.
Gossiping doesn't bother me to the point of obsession or affecting my life, it is just an irritant like an eyelash in the eye. And, like bullying, it will never go away.