Before we learn how to handle rumors, let us understand a little more about them. A rumor is the opposite of fact.
A fact is verified piece of information supported by data whereas a rumor is an unverified piece of information, which is unsubstantiated by any data. Since rumors are not backed by any data, they are normally quite exaggerated pieces of information and can be far from truth.
How & Why Rumors Start.
Rumors normally get started when people try to make sense of an ambiguous situation. For example, if five friends go for a jog every morning and one of them starts to miss the jog consecutively for a few days in a row, a rumor may get started that the friend is missing because they are unwell.
To understand a situation, people start making guesses to the best of their understanding, based on their experiences; and before you know it, a rumor has started. Some rumors are harmless while some can ruin the image of a person or an entity. Some rumors are started with the intention of damaging the reputation of the person or thing. There are several intentions in the mind of the rumor starter.
Following are some of the reasons why the rumor starter starts a rumor:
- To Feel Better – the rumor starter may be feeling down about a deficiency of their own and so they may start a rumor that makes someone else look bad in order to feel good about themselves.
- To Fit In – the rumor starter may be looking to fit in amongst a new gang and so they may try to appear more knowledgeable than they actually are and start a rumor.
- To Gain Attention – person with news that helps explain an ambiguous situation definitely captures attention of others. The rumor starter may start a rumor to gain other’s attention.
- To Improve their Power/Position – the rumor starter may create a rumor that harms their competitor’s reputation, resultantly gaining power and improving their position.
- To Take Revenge – the rumor starter may create a rumor in vengeance, in order to take retribution from the person regarding whom rumor is started.
- To Pass Time – yes its true, some rumor starters start a rumor as a cure to their boredom!
How Rumors Spread
Rumors spread in proportion to ambiguity – the more ambiguous the environment the more easily rumors will spread.
Rumors also spread speedily in environments that do not discourage them. The more attention a rumor gets, the more widespread it becomes. Whether it is a home, institute or a workplace, if the culture of the place supports rumors and does not have a mechanism for discouraging it, rumors will gain quick attention.
HOW RUMORS AFFECT US – PERSONALLY & PROFESSIONALLY
Rumors can affect our personal as well as professional lives, even if we have done nothing to start them. Here are a few ways how:
- On the Personal Level
Rumors can have serious effects on our personal lives and become an impediment in our growth and development:
- On the Professional Level
When rumors about us get started in the workplace, they can greatly influence our professional lives. Here are a few ways in which rumors can have an impact on us on the professional level:
HOW TO HANDLE RUMORS EFFECTIVELY
Unfortunately, rumors can get started about the best amongst us. If you ever find yourself in a situation where a rumor has started concerning you, you must know how to handle the situation effectively. But before you know what to do, you must understand there are some things you should not do in such a situation.
Here are some of those things:
What Not to Do
What To Do
It is in our nature to make sense of things going on around us because ambiguity makes us uncomfortable. We use our imagination, our experience, our knowledge, and our opinions to fill in the gaps when we do not have complete information regarding a situation.
Sometimes our evil side takes over and we resort to dirty tricks such as rumor spreading in order to put our competitors down. Regardless of why or how the rumor got started, what matters the most is how we handle it.
It may not be possible for us to avoid getting in the middle of a rumor but by learning how to handle rumors effectively, we can make our lives easier and reduce the impact they have in our personal as well as professional lives.