if someone tells you — or you overhear someone you know tell another person — something negative about someone, eg, criticizes her/him, what would you do?
if the person telling, ie, the speaker, is a close friend, you might listen to the criticism, or give assent to what she/he says; or if you find something objectionable in it, you might either take it with a grain of salt, or give the speaker the benefit of your doubt.
but what ought you to do if someone (even a close friend) tells you, or you overhear criticism about another person that you could not overlook? you have four options.
first, you can keep silent about it. keep it to yourself. when this happens, you gain a foothold on both the speaker and the person she/he is telling on, ie, the subject. is this good? no, because this kind of knowledge corrupts your mind, and cankers your heart.
secondly, you can go directly to the subject of the criticism, and tell her/him that the speaker said this about her/him. but. this gives cause for the subject to take offense against the speaker, unnecessarily. this drives a wedge between them, and separates them. you have provoked the subject against the speaker, which the speaker is not even aware of.
thirdly, you can tell the speaker to stop. and instead of telling you anything more, to go to the person, and tell it to her/him directly. this prevents knowledge that cankers to be lodged in your heart.
or fourthly, if you can’t stop her/him, tell her/him that you yourself will relay the criticism to the person, as coming from her/him (the speaker.) if the subject takes offense at what you relayed the speaker to have said, the speaker is not unaware why.
if you only overheard it, and you cannot overlook what was said, then tell the speaker that you overheard what she/he said, and that you believe the subject has a right to know. either she/he tell her/him directly or you tell her/him that you will relay the criticism, as coming from her/him (the speaker.)
it isn’t fair to say, “someone told me this criticism about you.” because it torments the subject with the unanswered questions, who? and, why?