How to Create True Intimacy (and Avoid Gossip’s Tempting Secrecy)

Little by little, I’ve been reading Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict as part of a book study with some fellow early childhood educators who want to provide the very best for the children and families they serve.

The author, Dr. Donna Hicks, has spent almost two decades facilitating dialog in communities in conflict across the globe.  One of her final chapters in Dignity addresses gossip by acknowledging one of the most profound and understandable reasons why we do it.  Often when we gossip, we are trying to create intimacy by sharing “secret,” personal information.  We feel connected when we share a secret, even when the secret is not ours to share.

Hicks warns:  “Beware of the tendency to connect by gossiping about others in a demeaning way.  Being critical and judgmental about others when they are notdignity present is harmful and undignified.

It’s also intimacy on the cheap.  Once we’re aware of the trap, we can meet the need in a new, richer and riskier way.

Hicks advises:

“If you want to create intimacy with another, speak the truth about yourself, about what is happening in your inner world, and invite the other person to do the same.”

It is my truth I must speak, not another’s.  If I cannot trust the person with whom I’m speaking with the truth about my own inner world, I must not betray another’s trust in order to create an intimacy that’s false.


This post is part of a speech-silenceseries (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence). To receive new installments, you’re invited to Follow Sparrowfare by placing your email address in the FOLLOW box in the sidebar. Please share the posts that speak to you.  In this contentious time, let’s spread the word about the importance of our words.