Office gossip is never a good thing: how to stop a rumour before it gets out of hand

04 April 2018 - 12:00 By EvenMe
Image: 123RF

A rumour starts when people try to make sense of something and it spreads because people want to be in the know. Knowledge is power, right?

The person starting the rumour may have a couple of facts, they then fill in the holes with a bit of guesswork, the news spreads with little bits added along the way and eventually you end up with a fast-flying rumour that’s gotten out of hand!

Here’s how to prevent a rumour from ruining your career!

  1. Tell people what’s happening. If your colleagues know that you’re seeing the boss or that you’ve broken up with your boyfriend, there’s no chance of a rumour starting. It’s fact and everybody knows about it!
  2. Draw the line on what you share. Before you do tell others, if the news involves someone else, agree what you’re going to put out into the public space and what you will keep just between the two of you. You don’t have to reveal all the details about what happened but just say that you disagreed on a certain aspect of your relationship for instance and that you’d rather not go into it. This way everyone knows not to probe any further and they’ll respect your request for privacy.
  3. Stop the behaviour that’s causing the rumour. If, for instance the rumour is that you’re seeing your married boss and it’s not true then stop flirting with him in the office or meeting with him after work for drinks or whatever it is you’re doing that’s causing people to fill in the wrong blanks. With nothing new to fuel the flames, they’ll just fade and die eventually.
  4. Don’t let the rumour upset you. If you show that you’re upset because of the rumour, it may give people fuel, thinking it’s true. Stay calm.
  5. Set a good example. When others come to you with gossip or news that may turn into a rumour, politely refuse to get involved.

Rumours are cruel and can cause a lot of hurt and distrust in a workplace. As soon as you’ve doused the rumour, return to work-as-usual as soon as possible and move on. Don’t hold grudges and don’t let it hang over you, it will stop you from achieving everything you had planned to achieve.

If you find there’s a particular person that always starts the rumours, approach them and tell them you will expose them for what they’re doing. Rumours are hurtful and can be considered as a form of workplace bullying. You must be sure that the person you’re accusing is actually guilty and that they knowingly start rumours though.

If they continue, gather some witnesses and report the person to HR or your manager. You will need to follow a formal grievance process which your manager or the HR manager will guide you through.

For some reason, some people get a kick out of creating rumours and making other peoples’ lives difficult and their nasty habits need to be stopped.