Updated: Dec 31, 2018
Rumors can destroy relationships and careers. Rumors involve a statement whose veracity is not quickly or ever confirmed. Getting to the facts of a situation can be a daunting task at times. Many rumors have their foundation in misinformation" (simply false) and "disinformation" (deliberately false). Rumors are especially difficult to confirm if the original or later versions were based on deliberate untruths.
While in the past most rumors were transmitted by “word of mouth”, in today’s electronic world there are many potential vehicles to transmit rumors in high volume and at the speed of light. Many of the root sources are hidden from our view. I wish I could share some profound knowledge on how to address the rumor mill phenomenon. But I can’t. I will share that my communication style is to try to identify the source, it may cover a few mile markers on the communication trail, and then to attempt to clarify the situation. Then there are other times when I consider the source and move on.
Depending on your communication style, you may or not be comfortable confronting the source of the rumor. I know several individuals who internalize the effects of rumors to the detriment of their health and possible relationships.
Perpetuating rumors is as unprofessional as initiating them. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the loss of jobs and the destruction of careers. Sadly, the organization leaders were just as accountable for the rumor and the resultant action as the person who started the rumor.
I trust it goes without saying, but just in case it doesn’t, you should never initiate or facilitate a rumor. Get your facts before you communicate. That was the first lesson the editor of my town newspaper ingrained in me when I was a high school sports reporter.
I’d be interested to know how you deal with rumors.