People gossip for many reasons. Some are jealous of your success, appearance, or achievements, while others simply enjoy talking about others behind their backs.
Whatever the reason, gossip can be fun, but it can also be harmful to those on the receiving end.
But can you exclude a colleague or a “friend” who talks about you to others? Of course, you can.
So let’s see what subtle behaviors people who gossip behind your back usually exhibit.
1) Unusual friendliness
Over-the-top friendliness is a bit suspect. It’s like they’re trying too hard to be nice to your face while gossiping behind your back.
When you see all the smiles on the surface, know that there may be some hidden negativity lurking.
So if someone suddenly showers you with over-the-top kindness, it’s worth keeping your radar on for signs of gossip going on behind the scenes.
2) Exaggerated reactions
If they make a big deal out of certain things, it can be a distraction. They try to divert attention from the gossip itself.
The idea here is to create a spectacle, a lot of fuss, or a distraction to draw attention away from the real problem: the gossip they have spread.
By exaggerating their reactions, they hope that you will focus on the drama they are creating, rather than questioning the gossip they are involved in.
I’ve seen this happen in the office I worked at, and you could definitely tell something was going on.
3) Inconsistent stories
Gossips often tell one story to you and another to someone else. If you want to get to the bottom of something, you’ll have to dig a little deeper and see if you can catch them saying inconsistent things.
If their stories don’t match, it’s because they’re juggling different versions of the gossip. The inconsistencies show that they are not being honest with you.
And if you notice these inconsistencies, it’s a strong sign that they’re not being honest with you, and they’re probably talking nonsense behind your back.
4) Whispered and muffled conversations
If people are talking quietly or secretly, it could mean they are creating a little club without you. They deliberately withhold information from you, which makes you feel left out.
But let’s step on the ball for a moment. Just because people are talking without you doesn’t mean they’re talking about you. However, I wouldn’t be naive and think that everyone is a good person.
What I have noticed is that the less work people actually do at work, the more time they have to spend, and that is why many of them resort to gossiping.
Think about it: when you’re overwhelmed 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 the main character would enter a drawing room and everyone would suddenly go quiet and look at him?
Well, that can sometimes happen when people talk behind your back when you enter a room or office.
If everyone stops talking as soon as you walk in, it’s no coincidence. They hide something and quickly change the subject to prevent you from understanding.
6) Avoid eye contact
When people don’t look you in the eye, it’s not just shyness. Some feel guilty for talking about you, and they can’t face you honestly.
The lack of eye contact becomes a non-verbal acknowledgment that something is wrong and that they are not being completely honest with you.
It’s a subtle but powerful clue that suggests there may be more going on than meets the eye, and they’re having trouble facing you directly.
7) Fake smiles
The same can be said about a fake smile you see on someone’s face when you talk to them.
This may conceal negativity or criticism, especially when gossip is involved.
Genuine smile involve not only the lips but also the eyes – it is an expression of warmth and happiness all over the face.
A fake smile, on the other hand, lacks that genuine warmth. The smile becomes a cover, an attempt to present a friendly front while hiding less positive feelings.
But it is also part of the entire body language that someone presents.
8) Awkward body language
Awkward body language speaks volumes and when you find yourself moving, crossing your arms, or turning away, you are actually witnessing the physical manifestations of inner turmoil.
These nonverbal cues suggest that whatever has been said about you has a significant impact on their emotional state.
This is easy to notice when you spend a lot of time with someone and they suddenly start to become like this.
But even if you don’t know them that well, it’s still easy to catch it because it’s quite sus. Have you noticed how, when people see you, they abruptly change the subject?
9) Changes in the conversation
If they suddenly change the subject as you approach, they are trying to act normal and cover up the fact that they were only discussing things about you.
I have seen this happen many times to know exactly what is going on. And if you haven’t experienced it firsthand, you’ve seen it on TV, as every TV show set in a work environment like The Office or Superstore shows this happening.
Still, it’s eerie to watch it play out in real life, as you notice people abruptly changing the subject as you pass by.
If you find yourself consistently left out of plans or groups, it means the social dynamic is shifting and the message is, “We’ve talked, and we’re not being cool with you right now.”
Being left out is a form of passive-aggressive behavior, expressing your disapproval without direct confrontation.
Take a moment to think about the possible reasons behind the exclusion. Think about your recent interactions and any sources of conflict or misunderstanding.
Feeling hurt or upset is normal, but try to remain calm and collected. Reacting impulsively can make the situation worse. So take some time to process your emotions before making a decision.
If it’s okay with you, try to talk openly and honestly with the people involved. Ask them about any misunderstandings and tell them how you feel.
Keep things cool, avoid arguments and try to understand each other better.
11) Sparkles and stars
The eyes, often called the windows to the soul, can reveal a lot about what a person thinks or feels.
In this case, looks and stars become a form of communication, a way for the person to express their negativity without expressing it.
Those judgmental looks? They are not just random. They express negative opinions about you without actually saying anything.
They make you feel interrogated or under a microscope, and the negative feelings behind them likely stem 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 red-handed? First, stay calm and don’t give them 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 is being said and how widespread it is.
Start by documenting these cases as this can be helpful if you decide to escalate matters.
Just know that not every piece of gossip is worth addressing. Evaluate the situation and decide if it is worth confronting, or if it is something you can let go.
If the gossip is causing you significant problems, and you are comfortable with it, engage a mediator (such as HR) or a neutral person who can help you with this situation, especially if it is happening in the workplace.
Let people know that spreading rumors or gossip is not acceptable and that you expect respectful and open communication.
Share this content: