Those “friends” who judge me based upon something bad they heard about me, without even bothering to ask me for my take on the matter...
They are not even friends.
Or, from my POV, their notion of “friendship” is so grossly incompatible with me that the “friendship” is not worth my time and effort for salvaging/restoring.
Also, here's an important corollary: Do not expect to affect my view upon a friend of mine by saying something bad about him/her. In most cases, it will only backfire at you. My respect for you—not for him/her but for you—will take a serious hit. And not just that, I will verify the thing I heard from you with the friend whom you badmouthed, whether you said it was a secret or not. Will I stir up a drama by that verification? Perhaps. But I will do that in order to stay out of the drama, by hearing from both sides and coming to my own conclusion (or a lack thereof, as appropriate). In other words, it's not my drama. It's your problem.
In short, drama and I simply will not mix. Keep that in mind.
Yes, this is a change in my attitude, and it may interfere with the consultant role I have assumed numerous times. The “may” part is because I may still be able to remain as a consultant, but only if you consult me in order to progressively resolve the drama you have. Specifically, “Eugene, I have this problem with X, but I do wanna remain a friend with him/her... What should I do?” is perfectly okay.
P.S. Comments are welcomed.