(Here, I want to address an issue that I think is greatly neglected by our society: respect for the good name of others.)
One evening, one of my co-workers came to me with a question. She was having trouble with someone she works with at another job. Her work ethic and promptness left something to be desired.
In a nutshell, my co-worker was wondering and asking: “Should I report it; should I not…I hate to tattle on somebody but don’t know what else to do.”
I brought up the option of first trying to approach the individual rather than going directly to the supervisor. I asked her if she could gently, sensitively approach her co-worker with her concerns. I mentioned she could also inform the woman that if things did not change, she would have to report her.
We also discussed the possibility of doing this in writing since it is often easier to get all ones thoughts out clearly, and without interruption, on paper. Maybe this is a cowardly approach on my part, but some situations seem like some situations are easier to handle in writing.
Nonetheless, whether doing this in writing or verbally, approaching the person directly first, IF POSSIBLE, before ‘tattling’ on them seems a good, charitable option for all of us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church actually has a section of relevance here in its section on the eighth commandment.
At times, this gets a little ‘sticky’ here: as workers in a care facility, we sometimes have to share information about residents with other staff. I find it to be an ongoing task to try to be charitable and respectful of our residents in discussions with my co-workers. I don’t want to indiscreetly say whatever I feel like; I need to be sensitive. Some things need to be said, but not necessarily everything. Also, I need to make sure to say things in a way that is respectful of the person’s name and their human dignity.
It seems that society at large could use a little more concern for the reputation and good name of others. How often do people, thoughtlessly, make derogatory comments about their neighbor?
If we want to love our neighbor as ourselves as Christ commanded, maybe each of us should be more careful in what we say. Before we flippantly gossip about someone, it would be good to stop and think: “Would I like to have that said about me?”