When it comes to rumors and gossip, everyone's fair game. It can seem like one moment, the big buzz is about someone else and then suddenly, it's your turn to be the target.
So, how can you deal with it in a way that won't make the situation worse?
Try to understand where it's coming from, and why
If you can, figure out who started the rumor. This is where everyone likes to pass the buck, as in "I didn't start it! I heard it from Christina!"
Was the rumor meant to hurt you, or is it just a case of misinformation or exaggeration? Is someone trying to get back at you for something? Is she or he intent on turning others against you?
It's important to get this information before you react to the rumor, so you can have a better idea of how to deal with it and the people who are spreading it.
Get someone in the middle to make a stand
Do you have an ally out there on the battleground? Identify someone who didn't start the rumor and get him or her on your side. Ask this person to stick up for you, telling others in the group that the rumor is not true and, most importantly, very hurtful. This can be a lot to ask of someone, so you might try to find two people to do this, or help your friend find a "buddy" to back him or her up.
Don't give the bully what he or she wants
It's easy to get overwhelmed with emotion when people are being mean to us. But just like with other types of bullying, it just makes it worse when we reward their efforts by getting visibly upset.
Keep in mind that when someone starts a rumor meant to hurt another person, he or she is probably doing it because of insecurity or unhappiness. This is especially true of people who do it on a regular basis; in other words, he or she is a bully who needs to lower someone else's status in order to make himself or herself feel better. Imagine how disappointed this person will be when his or her plan doesn't work!
Resist the urge to get revenge
If you've been the victim of gossip and rumors and you know who's been spreading them, you might want to go "an eye for an eye." It's tempting to think up lies or expose secrets that you know, and taking revenge in this way might feel good for a short time. But in the end, it will just keep the cycle of rumors going, and will make you as much of a bully as any other rumor-starter.
Lower the chances that it will happen again
Think about what you've learned from a particular rumor experience, and let it help you make sure it never happens again. Here are some tips:
- Be careful with your secrets. The more private information that you make public, the more ammunition the gossips will have, so be careful who you confide in.
- Use the buddy system. It helps to have a best friend who you can trust to be on your side and watch your back when you need it. Ask this friend to keep an ear out for gossip about you and let you know who's doing the gossiping. Of course, the best way to make sure your friend stays loyal is to do the same for him or her, and not betray the trust of friendship when it's your friend's turn to be a rumor target.
- Resist the urge to dish it out. Have you heard the saying, "She can dish it out, but she can't take it"? In other words, don't be the person who's happy to spread rumors about other people, but freaks out when they're about you. If you spread gossip and rumors about others, you might get a rep as someone who deserves a taste of his or her own medicine. When you keep your gossip to yourself, you won't be such a prime target for somebody seeking to get even.
Next, read some advice and stories From The Mentors.