One of my pet peeves is a gossiper. Especially one who tries to talk anything negative about one of my friends, a coworker, supervisor, or even family member. I have very few people who will ever come up to me with gossip. No, I don't carry a sign that says, "stand back 500 feet with your gossip" but that would go good on a t-shirt :)
Here are five ways to redirect gossip.
Clarify your role. When someone comes up to you with gossip ask them are you there to give your opinion or just to listen. I guarantee this alone will keep gossipers away the next time they try to bring you gossip.
Paraphrase for closure. Try to grasp their emotion by repeating back what they say to you. What is their intent on the gossip given?
Try to understand. When listening to the gossip separate the facts from the lie. Sidenote: there is always a lie within a gossip.
Empathize. Not with the gossiper but with whom they are speaking of. This can give you a different perspective.
Call them on it. Yup, sometimes you have to call them on it especially if you know they are telling lies and rumors.
Cheers to less gossip and more peace!