People gossip for many reasons. Some are envious of your success, appearance, or achievements, while others simply find joy in talking about others behind their back.
Whatever the reason, gossiping can be fun but also harmful to those who are on the receiving end.
But can you suss out a colleague or a “friend” who’s talking about you to others? Sure you can.
So, let’s discover what subtle behaviors people who gossip behind your back typically display.
1) Unusual friendliness
Over-the-top niceness is a bit suspicious. It’s like they’re trying too hard to be nice to your face while gossiping behind your back.
If you see all smiles on the surface, know that there might be some hidden negativity lurking underneath.
So, if someone is suddenly showering you with over-the-top niceness, it’s worth keeping your radar on for any signs of gossip going on behind the scenes.
2) Exaggerated reactions
If they make a big deal out of certain things, it might be a distraction. They’re trying to divert attention away from the gossip itself.
The idea here is to create a spectacle, a big fuss, or a diversion to draw attention away from the real issue – the gossip they’ve been spreading.
By exaggerating their reactions, they hope you will focus on the drama they’re creating instead of questioning the gossip they’ve been involved in.
I’ve seen this happen in the office I was working in, and you could see something sus was happening for sure.
3) Inconsistent stories
Gossipers are often telling one story to you and another to someone else. If you want to get to the bottom of something, you have to dig a bit deeper and see if you can catch them telling inconsistent things.
If their stories don’t match up, it’s because they’re juggling different versions of the gossip. The inconsistencies show they’re not being straight with you.
That could be a sign that they’re likely talking shit behind your back.
4) Whispering and hushed conversations
When people talk quietly or in secret, it might mean they’re creating a little club without you. They’re deliberately keeping info from you, making you feel left out.
But let’s step on the ball for a moment. Just because people are talking without you, it doesn’t mean they’re talking about you. Still, I also wouldn’t be naive and think that everyone is a good person.
What I’ve noticed is that the less work people actually do on their job, the more time they have to fill, and that’s why many of them resort to gossiping.
Just think about it: when you’re swamped with things to do, the last thing you want to think about is other people.
5) Sudden silence
You know how in old Western movies when the main character would enter a saloon, and everyone suddenly went quiet and looked at him?
Well, that can sometimes happen when people talk behind your back when you enter a room or office.
If everyone stops talking the moment you walk in, it’s not just a coincidence. They’re hiding something, swiftly changing the subject to keep you from catching on.
6) Avoiding eye contact
When people won’t look you in the eye, it’s not just shyness. Some feel guilty because they’ve been talking about you, and they can’t face you with honesty.
The lack of eye contact becomes a non-verbal admission that something is wrong and they’re not entirely straightforward with you.
It’s a subtle but powerful cue that suggests there might be more to the story than meets the eye, and they’re struggling to face you directly.
7) Fake smiles
The same can be said about fake smiles you might catch on someone’s face when you’re talking to them.
Behind them, there might be negativity or criticism, especially if gossip is involved.
Genuine smiles involve not just the lips but also the eyes – it’s a whole-face expression of warmth and happiness.
A fake smile, on the other hand, lacks that genuine warmth. The smile becomes a cover-up, an attempt to present a friendly front while concealing less-than-positive feelings.
But it’s also part of the whole body language someone presents.
8) Uncomfortable body language
Uncomfortable body language speaks volumes, and when you notice fidgeting, crossed arms, or turning away, you’re basically witnessing the physical manifestations of inner turmoil.
These non-verbal cues suggest that whatever has been said about you is having a significant impact on their emotional state.
This is easy to notice when you’re spending plenty of time with someone, and they suddenly start behaving this way.
But even if you don’t know them that well, it’s still easy to catch it as it’s pretty sus. Have you noticed how, when people see you, they abruptly change the subject?
9) Changes in conversation
If they suddenly switch topics when you approach, they’re trying to act normal and cover up the fact that they were just discussing things about you.
I’ve seen this happen plenty of times to know exactly what’s going on. And if you haven’t experienced it on your own skin, you’ve seen it on TV as every TV show that’s set in a working environment like The Office or Superstore shows this happening.
Still, it’s uncanny seeing it play out in real life as you find people abruptly changing the subject when you come around.
When you find yourself consistently left out of plans or groups, that means the social dynamics are shifting, and the message is, “We’ve been talking, and we’re not too cool with you right now.”
When you’re left out, it’s a form of passive-aggressive behavior, expressing disapproval without direct confrontation.
Take a moment to reflect on the possible reasons behind the exclusion. Consider your recent interactions and any potential sources of conflict or misunderstanding.
Feeling hurt or upset is natural, but try to stay calm and collected. Reacting impulsively can worsen the situation. So, take some time to process your emotions before deciding on a course of action.
If you’re okay with it, try talking openly and honestly with the people involved. Ask them about any possible misunderstandings and share how you feel.
Keep things chill, avoid getting into a fight, and aim for understanding each other better.
11) Glares and stares
The eyes, often called the windows to the soul, can reveal a lot about what someone is thinking or feeling.
In this case, glares and stares become a form of communication, a way for the person to express their negativity without vocalizing it.
Those judgmental looks? They’re not just random. They’re expressing negative opinions about you without actually saying anything.
They make you feel scrutinized or under a microscope, and the negative sentiments behind them are probably stemming from the gossip or opinions they’ve formed about you.
So, what should you do about it?
But what should you do if you catch them in the act? First, stay calm and don’t give them any more material by being hysterical or something.
Take a deep breath and approach the situation with a level head. Consider talking to trusted friends or colleagues to get a sense of what’s being said and how widespread it is.
Start documenting these instances, as this will be useful if you decide to escalate things.
Just know that not every piece of gossip is worth addressing. Evaluate the situation and decide whether it’s worth your time and energy to confront or if it’s something you can let go of.
If the gossip is causing you significant issues, and you’re comfortable doing so, involve a mediator (like HR, if it’s happening in the workplace) or someone neutral who can help with this situation.
Let people know that spreading rumors or gossip isn’t acceptable, and you expect respectful and open communication.