What type of gossip?
I have come to the conclusion that even if you tell something just to one person. Somehow others will guess what you've said or that one person will casually (without meaning to) simply mention it to someone else - and generally because most of us DON'T like gossip - the gossip gets changed because the 2nd person recognises it's gossip and doesn't want to be caught for 'spreading' something that could be true so changes the facts slightly and then tells someone who's vaguely in the same 'friends' circle and generally it will be told to one more person who is normally a close friend or relative of yours, or someone on your daily route or path who will mention the piece of gossip or act on it (eg. speak to your close relative if the gossip is of a slightly alarming nature - even though it's gossip - it may be percieved as accurate information by the final hearer).
Ways of dealing with gossip.
a) Try to only tell people information about yourself in the first place which is light and trivial eg. what course you are studying, where you are going on holiday, if you are going into the next town by bus later, if you have a cold or just have had the flu
DO NOT tell people you have schizophrenia (only 1 or 2 very very close relatives need to know about your condition simply if it slowly changed how you could cope with doing daily routine things and had to be treated medically). There is no need to tell people about it! Well treated schizophrenia is hard to spot by non professionals.
b) Use public places as a way of neutralises or counteracting potentially argumentative or tricky aspects of things.
Eg. if you are on an educational course, the way of paying for it might just come into question, maybe mention in a local hairdressers that you have a part time job in the local supermarket (doesn't have to be true)
c) Try to work out what's causing it. There could be a very very simple thing that's happening without you realising and it's easy to think people are talking about you behind your back when you're simply not there to defend your position.
For example, in my local hairdressers shop, I had no idea but one or two people who I knew to recognise and perhaps simply say hello to in our village, were passing very general comments about me -like - have you seen ...... she's put on a bit of weight. or have you seen...... she's got a new hair cut. These things aren't meant in a harmful way. However, because a certain relative decided to tell the hairdresser about my health condition, what was actually happening in the shop, was, a very ordinary non intrusive comment such as commenting on my hairstyle was actually turning into a bit of an analysis because of the hairdressers knowledge about my health condition.
Therefore 'have you seen so and so, they have had a new hair cut' was turning into ' did you know so and so is having a really hard time at college at the moment, can't concerntrate and has let herself slip a bit'. Now the only way I was able to work out that this was going on was a very strange comment was made by someone to me, who I never see and who is unlikely to be in a position to have heard anything directly from my immediate group of friends and also wouldn't have got their facts wrong about what they had heard (or unlikely). The comment came from a parent of her son who I was in the same year at school and who we have had some contact with, but only on a formal contact through foreign exchange both in the french twinning group and school excursions. Now to suddenly go from quite a formal exchange of hellos and how are you and chat about education courses and formalities - to suddenly go to talk about starting families, getting married etc - suggests that perhaps they have heard something about me because I'm actually still studying and not interested in starting a family yet.
Why has the initial piece of information been changed?
Difficult question. You could ask - do people intend to change information or do it deliberately? I genuinely think that most of the time it's not done maliciously and often say if the gossip suddenly changed from 'so and so's doing well at college to - so and so's not doing well at college' it's often because they know people who have found the same course difficult and it's a genuine concern about a course in general, not specifically about you, just a general comment on the difficulty of a course, which happens to have your name tagged on with it.
However, I have noticed that when gossip becomes progressively worse and quite distant from the truth, almost stopping you from making progression with your course you are on, and actually holding you back. It's time to actually find out what's triggering the confusion about you in the first place. Now, this happened to me, I did an extra french gcse as a mature student and I had to quickly tell people that I'm not intending moving or travelling abroad that I'm intending on using it for acedemic purposes and doing a course here. That quickly stopped a lot of the sudden leaving you out of groups if you are going away business.
But I have also noticed something that's worth remembering. I am a very quiet person and leave myself out of conversation, rather than people disinclude me. This is because sometimes I find communication difficult because I'm thinking about other things or I'm feeling slightly dizzy, so don't want a conversation. I have noticed that this in itself is completely misunderstood by some people who simply don't have the time or the coping meconism in a group to be tolerant of this - they think there's something wrong because you're being quiet and you sudden get missed out of the group. Be aware that this is probably the biggest reason for gossip. There's little you can do if you can't get out of a group situation, you just have to be brave and try and deal with communicating as best as possible. If it's a formal group such as a work situation, often it's structured so you can prepare. Otherwise if it's a group of you gathered around an annual bonfire or a carole singing service round a christmas tree in a village, my advice to you is, just think it's only 1 hour or half an hour of chatting and yes it's difficult to join in and keep up with conversation, but I have got to keep up my conversation skills.
I just wanted to add to this that I have also experienced untrue information being shared amongst close friends and family who I see on a regular basis. By this I mean - discussing things like why I failed an education course, why I have poor grades in one or two subjects, the rest being good. All which are either untrue or have a good explanation for.
For example, my mother started telling her best friend from school about a friend of mine's (with lupus) ex partner had had many partners before her. This is not true he was a bit older than her, but didn't seem that experienced or confident and certainly didn't seem the type to have had many girlfriends/partners.
It's small things like this that really affect me, when I can certainly say I don't like being the subject of gossip, or my local one or two friends being the subject of conversation, which I am able to hear (but I do have very very good hearing!). Instead I wish people who realise I can hear them and also if they realise this not take advantage of an indirect conversational opportunity, where they can be as rude as they like - with no consequence or responsibility held for it. Unless they do it on a regular basis there's nothing really worth doing, if it happens more than once or twice you need to get someone else involved, especially if they are a named closed one or two relatives who know about your illness and would have to act on your behalf and get you into help or hospiutal if you suddenly fell unwell. If relatives which such responsibilty over your health and wellbeing are discussing you for certain, not could be misinterpreting their words, then it's best to tell someone how it's affecting you. This could be a free helpline or a healthcare professional, who knows you well. But be careful only to give an outline about what is going on because you want things to change and for it not to cast against them since they are a relative you have chosen to trust to get you to help, should you need it, and you trust them to be the judge of this - if you're unfit to see you're unwell yourself.
I just wanted to add - another thing that tends to set the ball rolling within the yard that I live - I have discovered: is not from observation of lights going on and off in my home as to which room I'm in and a presumed lifestyle based on this (eg. whether I'm awake or watching television at the given moment they observe) which I thought was happening when i first moved in because they kept on mentioning lights and getting up times etc. This has all stopped now.
Now it's a more subtle approach on my neighbours behalf. They are not medically trained and I have experienced each layperson has their own prejudisms and biases and their own ways of judging other people's health based on their own lifestyles and health conditions. I have now noticed the lady with cancer who I presume has bouts of feeling tired is now kind of moderating her level of conversation (length of conversation and amount of content) - more complex conversation when I've been up for longer and less when I've been up for less. Then I have had the window and by chance heard a little bit of the discussion and analysis about me (amongst many other different things they discuss so it's not too daunting to listen to!). A lot of the analysis tends to be based around the cancer illness the lady has had and relating a presumed lifestyle (observation of lights and also how awake I "seem") - and she tends to presume her analysis and untrained observation are correct. Her husband and her discuss this on a frequent basis, but I know they are just trying to be caring. However, I have noticed that unless I act on this a little bit - start getting up earlier and cleaning the house a little bit more and swicthing the lights on a little bit more (I do like to save electricity) - then I have to be careful because they start discussing their concerns with other neighbours and it becomes a yard topic of conversation. Before I know it a whole group of them will be standing round, I will walk past and then someone, usually the lady who#s had cancer will throw a lot of questions about lifestyle to me infront of everyone - this is embarrassing but I'm able to answer them, because I'm well at the moment.