Merriam-Webster.com defines eavesdrop as: to listen secretly to what is said in private. The origin had to do with literally standing under an eave as water dropped on the listener.
Nosey by Nature
I am, by nature, a nosey person; in fact I think more people are than are not. In my maturity though, I have learned a few things, not the least of which is that some things are just not my business. This is a lesson that would undoubtedly make a lot of people much happier in life.
Fly on the Wall
Needless to say, many of you are not going to change your nosey ways. It is understandable; you walk up on a conversation that is happening around the corner or just inside the next room and your ears perk up to the juicy tidbits of information being discussed. Your heart quickens and your mind whirrs at the chance to gain knowledge that you would not have been given otherwise; so you listen.
You Know You’re Listening
Now don’t even act like it is not true, because we know it is. Very few people have the willpower or wisdom to just walk away or at least make their presence known. My kids used to do this and would inevitably give themselves away later, usually because they could not keep their mouths shut about what they thought they heard.
Rules of Engagement
I found myself giving them rules for eavesdropping, and now I am going to share them with you.
- If you are going to listen, make sure you hear everything, or don’t listen at all.
- Try to make sure you have understood the context in which the overheard words were spoken.
- Do not lie about “accidently” overhearing. We all know you stood there on purpose.
- Do not enter a conversation without being invited just because you think you have a good grasp of what is being discussed, and/or you believe you have valuable input. If someone had wanted your input, they would have asked you.
- Keep your dang mouth shut.
Number 5 is key. You were not a member of the conversation to which you were eavesdropping. I do not care how loud someone was talking or what they were talking about, IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS until someone makes it your business. No matter what you think you know, you don’t know. So if you heard something, at the very least keep it to yourself (you doubtfully have the details right anyway).
Does this bug others as much as it does me, or am I just fighting human nature? Sound off with your rules and opinions about eavesdropping in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts, but I won’t stand on the other side of the door to get them!