I ignored the rumors. I knew that anyone who knew me would know the rumors weren’t true. I trusted the truth to come out, so I ignored them. Even when friends came up to me to tell me who was saying what, I laughed and thanked them for their concern. I looked the other way.
Until someone told me directly that even though they knew the rumors weren’t true, they were affecting my credibility, and it was time I put a stop to them.
It is easy to turn the other cheek and ignore the office gossip when it is about you. However, there are times when we need to deal with the gossip and gossiper.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”qU78v” via=”yes” ]It is easy to turn the other cheek and ignore the office gossip when it is about you. However, there are times when we need to deal with the gossip and gossiper.[/ctt]
When the gossip is about you, you need to know when it is potentially damaging. You need to know your boundaries for what you will ignore and turn the other cheek and what you will deal with directly.
My boundary is my professional reputation. If you want to gossip about my financial situation, shoe budget, car, vacations, or even the state of my marriage, I will look the other way.
I know that you can never stop gossip so trying to stop every rumor about me isn’t reasonable. I can, however, pay attention to my professional reputation, and if there is gossip about me that I feel affects my reputation, I will deal with it.
Here are the four steps to follow when the gossip is about you, and you choose to confront a colleague about it.
- Be very clear on the purpose of this confrontation. At the end of this highly uncomfortable confrontation, do you want the gossip corrected, or do you want it stopped? You will get very different results, and you can only have one.
When I confronted the presumed source of my gossip, my goal was to have the gossip completely stopped. I was very clear that I didn’t want to be the subject of conversation.
While the gossip was wrong, I was more concerned with stopping it rather than correcting it. My perspective was that if I wanted to clarify the gossip and “set the record straight,” I would still be the subject of gossip, and they could potentially debate whether it was true. I wanted it to end, and my purpose was very clear.
- Don’t bring others into it. It is very tempting to say, “I was told you were spreading gossip about me.”
As soon as you bring someone else (figuratively) into the discussion, the discussion no longer becomes about your purpose (correct the gossip or end it); it becomes more about, “Who told you that?” which isn’t helpful for you. It just starts up more gossip, which is not your intent.
Instead, don’t bring others into the conversation at all. Tell your gossiper what you believe to be true, and don’t implicate others.
- Choose your style before your confrontation. You may choose the direct style, “I know you’ve been spreading false rumors about me, and I want them stopped immediately.” Or an indirect style, “I don’t know if you’ve heard the rumors about me or not, but if you do, please shut them down.”
Your approach will depend on your comfort (or anger) level with the confrontation and person. Always be professional and respectful, but don’t feel you need to be direct if that doesn’t feel good.
- Expect pushback. You can virtually guarantee your colleague will deny any knowledge of the rumor at all, or they will laugh and say they knew it wasn’t true.
They will not confess and tell you they not only have heard it; they were the one to start the gossip. Is your intention to prove that they were part of the gossip mill, or do you just want it stopped/corrected?
They will deny and as long as you get the end result that you want, do you care if they admit it or not?
When the gossip is about you, you must decide what you will deal with, how you will deal with it, and recognize that you’ve created another juicy gossip tidbit to be shared. You also must look at the consequences of not dealing with it. Sometimes the short-term pain of the confrontation is worth it.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”X8N47″ via=”yes” ]When the gossip is about you, you must decide what you will deal with, how you will deal with it, and recognize that you’ve created another juicy gossip tidbit to be shared.[/ctt]
I did confront who I perceived was the source of the gossip. My goal was to get the gossip stopped, and it did. I took a very direct style, and I’m sure that the gossip afterward called me a name that rhymed with witch.
It wasn’t easy to do. I was nervous and filled with anxiety. I’m glad I did it, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if needed.