If you’ve ever been the subject of an office rumor you know that the experience is really no different than what you probably went through in junior high school, albeit with a lot less teasing. Dealing with office rumors — especially those that are false — can end up being a test of your will and your ability to maintain the high road. You don’t want to give any credibility to the rumor itself or the people responsible for spreading them. Here are the pros and cons of ignoring rumors about you and why addressing it directly might be the better approach to minimize negative impact on your career.
1) Ignoring it can prevent further perpetuation of the rumor, letting it die of its own momentum.
2) It shows your colleagues that you are unwilling to stoop to the rumormonger’s level (always a net positive).
1) It can cause doubt in others and lead to a questioning of your judgment. If rumor is false, and likely negative, why wouldn’t you do everything you could do address it at the source to squash it?
2) It might actually lead to more rumors and an unspoken understanding that it’s true.
Looking at my thoughts above, it seems that you can get caught in a rock and hard place pretty easily by choosing to ignore a rumor about you. Despite what your gut instinct might tell you to do, addressing the rumor directly to explicitly reject it and assert the truth might be your best bet. Determining what the best way to approach a rumor is really based on how you feel. However, when dealing with the situation you will need to keep the emotion out of the equation and maintain a level of professionalism necessary to keep your career out of harm’s way.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.