No matter how old you are, malicious rumors can be hurtful. They sting in childhood, making you feel alone and isolated, and they can ruin your reputation at work or in the community as an adult. Many times, rumors are spread by an angry or jealous person whose primary goal is to bring you down. In those situations, it is necessary to take charge of the situation.
Ignore the rumor completely if it is about you. Act like you always have. Keep your head up, look the person who spread the rumor in the eyes when you see him and behave in a manner that lets you appear to others that you are unaffected and in control. However, shut the rumor down by firmly stating you don't believe it or know it not to be true if someone is telling you gossip about someone else. In her book "School Talk: Gender and Adolescent Culture," professor of sociology Donna Eder found that in a group of middle-schoolers, if one stated the gossip wasn't true, the others were likely to agree. If nobody spoke up, the group generally elaborated on it.
Avoid joining the rumor mill. When malicious rumors are being spread about you, your gut reaction may be to want to get even by spreading rumors about the person who did it to you. This will only perpetuate the cycle, making things worse in the long run.
Act as if you don't care. This can be difficult because rumors can cause feelings of anxiety to build up in you and make it difficult for you to go about your life the way you normally do. If you appear angry or upset, people are more likely to believe the person spreading the rumors. The calmer you appear, the more people will question whether the person spreading the rumor is telling the truth. If the rumor is about a friend or loved one, stand by that person in a calm manner until the gossip fades. Your presence will help to diminish the effects of the rumor, for her and the people who are listening to it, as they will see she is not alone. Those around you will also see the truth in the way the two of you interact and go about your life as usual.
Admit to any truth in the rumor. In this way, you will appear honest while having the chance to tell your story. Often rumors are based in truth with details added by people gossiping along the way until the truth is completely disguised.
- Health Guidance: How to Stop Rumors
- go.hrw.com: Taking a Pass on Rumors
- Unlimited Choice: How to Quash Rumours and Protect Your Reputation
- American Psychological Association: Schoolyard Blues: Impact of Gossip and Bullying
- School Talk: Gender and Adolescent Culture; Donna Eder
- Don't argue or fight with the person who started the rumor. If you feel the need to talk to that person about it, do so in a calm, rational manner and only discuss facts.
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