Finding yourself in the center of a workplace sandal is infuriating -- especially when you’re innocent. Confronting your bad press can be tricky. Making the wrong moves only adds fuel to fiery accusations, prolonging your time in the spotlight. Arming yourself with confidence and dedicated allies is essential when navigating the murky waters of workplace gossip.
Omit thoughts of revenge from your mind. Spreading rumors, name-calling and making threats are no-nos. Maturity requires that you abandon immature thoughts -- even if your fangs are set to strike. Besides, defending yourself too aggressively may backfire. Looking guilty is often enough evidence in the court of workplace opinion.
Fight fire with water. Downplay your anger while you’re at work. Save the panicking, pacing and sweating for more appropriate places. Showing up to work with wrinkled mom-jeans, flyaway hair and a frown screams, “I’m weak and guilty!” Dress to impress -- even if it’s only an act. Simply revealing your coolness under fire may just squelch the rumors.
Snag an undercover agent. Facing a hostile workplace alone is difficult --so don’t. Enlist the help of a willing friend or frenemy to discover the severity of the rumors -- from the inside. Explain your position and ask for loyalty. Instruct your crew to infiltrate workplace gossip circles to uncover possible sources and motives for the lies.
Divert attention from your situation. Take advantage of short attention spans and high drives for new drama. Discuss the latest reality shows and celebrity happenings with fervor. Only bring up highly controversial social or political issues as a last resort. Never resort to trashing a co-worker to take the heat away from you.
Consult a higher power -- HR. Arrange a discreet meeting to discuss your situation. While it may seem like tattling, failing to alert HR can prove unwise if your situation escalates beyond your breaking point. Express your feelings in the most rational yet powerful way possible. Provide HR with any information you’ve gathered, including possible sources of the rumors.
Confront the rumors -- if you dare. Sometimes decisive action is the only way to regain your esteem. This is especially true if rumors are harming your professional reputation. Meet with influential co-workers and tell them your side of the story. Make it clear that you only want to move forward with your career. Standing up for yourself in the appropriate manner may get the rumors to stop -- and win over allies to your side.
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