You’ve heard them: the whispers at the bus stop; the snickers at the unit event; the gasps at the wine night. All of these sly conversations center around rumors.
“I heard that they’re swingers.”
“It’s my understanding that they’re getting a divorce.”
“I am pretty sure that those two are having an affair.”
“I just know she cheats while he’s deployed.”
Just like the classic game of telephone, each time the words spread, they get bigger, bolder, worse. Rumors spread from boredom, lack of knowledge, insecurity and the desire to connect with someone while lacking valid news and stories of one’s own.
How do I know? I’ve had rumors spread about me and it isn’t pretty. It’s upsetting, maddening, violating and I felt temporarily powerless. You can only hope that people come to you for the real truth, that your friends will stand up for you, and that your reputation will precede you.
7 Ways To Combat Rumors
So that your neighborhood doesn’t end up becoming the “Real Housewives of Fort So-and-So,” use these tips to stop rumors in their tracks.
- Don’t participate. If you hear the gossip mill churning, you have every right to walk away and next time, think twice about who you associate with.
- Ask for the source. If you’re more the “open discussion” type, ask where they got their information, how they know it is true, if they have experienced this first-hand or if they have spoken with the person in question.
- Use your own judgment. It’s easy for messages to lessen in accuracy and increase in intensity. If something sounds outlandish or is out of character, think twice before believing it.
- Keep your lips sealed. So you heard some bad words — it doesn’t mean that you need to repeat them. If ten women told just one friend and made them promise not to tell, the rumor has instantly doubled.
- Connect with the subject of the rumor. The person being talked about has every right to know and confront those talking about her. If you’re keeping quiet to spare feelings — trust me — her feelings will be more hurt if you say nothing and she finds out that you knew.
- Put yourself in her shoes. If they’ll talk about her today, what’s to stop them from talking about you tomorrow? How might a rumor affect your family, profession or relationships? Showing a bit of humanity goes a long way.
- Demonstrate maturity and class. Even if you are tempted, don’t. Just don’t. Take the high road, treat others as you wish to be treated, and associate with those who truly know and appreciate you. Always be yourself and you will attract like-minded people.
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