i've come to realize how often people rely on this type of conversation, and as interesting as it can be, i've started to appreciate it less and less. i've heard my name being mentioned in someone's room the other day, which was weird because they could be talking about anything, good or bad, but it's still pretty uncomfortable. also, i know countless groups of friends that have been splintered on account of this. so about my week...
i first noticed that this type of conversation came up in a few forms: there was 1) anecdotal stories, which was just a funny observation someone had noted about another person, which came off as more of harmless banter. then there was 2) "mother hen circles", where a group of three to five people gathered and skipped through topics of people who weren't in the room. finally there was 3) malicious conversation, where the intent was to defame the individual who was not present.
so what is there to do if you do not want to partake? not inviting this type of conversation by brushing off comments about other people by stating something positive and changing topics is probably the best option.
sure, we all like to blow off steam and vent every once in a while. just make sure it's not always at some other persons expense in front of a large group.