Rumors and Gossip: Damage Control, Part 2

They all complained about the daily gossip that ran rampant among them. Every one participated in it yet ironically no one could understand why they would be targeted. In the fifteen years I worked at the battered women’s shelter, both staff and residents criticize those who engaged in rumors while also being the first to initiate the next juicy scandal. Any one of them could have had a successful career as a reporter for the National Inquirer. However, should their ears heed disparaging words about themselves, all hell would break loose. A verbal confrontation could easily turn physical.

Is it possible to protect yourself from being the target of vicious rumors? Yes and no. There are steps one can take to better insure others will not speak falsely and unkindly about them behind their backs.

First, be certain to always be a person of integrity: be respectful to all whom you encounter. It is much harder and less likely (although not warranted) for others to deliberately cause havoc in your life when you have consistently shown yourself to be a kind person.

Secondly, be transparent. Live your life openly and honestly and in such a way that if a rumor about you was to surface, others would find it hard to believe.

Thirdly, if you do something less than honorable, fess up. Admit, amend, and move beyond.

In the event you have been the subject of malicious gossip and feel the need to address it with the responsible party(s), rather than make threatening accusations, ask who started the rumor and what was said. Query them as to what their motives were in order to better understand why they engaged in such vicious behavior. Share with them, in a non-accusatory manner, how the rumor impacted you. Inquire as to whether or not they have ever had a similar experience and how it affected them, being careful not to impart guilt on them. This step is strictly to help elicit sensitivity and compassionate from the instigator. Present them with the facts if necessary and ask if they would kindly help to remedy the situation by sharing the truth with others. Regardless of whether or not you approach them or whether or not they cooperate with your requests, it is imperative to always maintain your dignity and to forgive them with or without an acknowledgement on their part.

I have had so many vicious and false rumors spread about me by family members. Initially I felt compelled to try and clear my name by presenting all parties with the truth. It was exhausting and my attempts proved futile. I learned one of my most valuable lessons in life: people will feel about you the way they want to feel and believe about you what they want to believe and the truth about you has nothing at all to do with it. I learned, too, that the quickest and easiest way to squelch a rumor is with silence. The sooner I move beyond it the sooner others will as well.
The world would be a much kinder and more gentle place if we could all learn to speak to people rather than about them. Let’s all do our part. Take the pledge to always be a Purveyor of Polite Persuasion. Remember, in this world there is no room for rumors.

Lord, let every word I speak be a reflection of your love.

Points of reflection
Before you speak about someone, ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say kind? Is it true? And is it necessary?

James 1:26: “If you think you are being religious but cannot control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and everything you do is useless.”
Psalms 141:3: “Help me to guard my words whenever I say something.”

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