Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to Destroy Rumors

You just heard, from a trusted friend, that a rumor is going around about you. In the schoolyard you wouldn’t hesitate dishing out the swift kicks to the nuts or, if you’re a pansy, running to the teacher. Unfortunately, we’re in the real world and if you want to dispel rumors about you, you’re going to have to be 50 lbs. smarter and 25 g sneakier. Here’s what you have to do to clear your good name.

Anticipate the Prophecy

While you’re trying to shoot down rumors about you, you have to realize that people will be talking to you with the rumor in mind. For example, if rumor has it that you’re an asshole, co-workers will be mean to you without giving you the chance to speak. It’s crucial to be above the rumors and not let them transform you into a subject that suits their purpose.

The Boomerang Effect

Under no circumstances are you to address the rumor directly. It doesn’t matter how apparent or “out in the open” your rumor is. Trying to directly shoot down the rumor will result in the boomerang effect and suddenly the whole playground knows you wet your Batman sheets. Trying to directly suppress a rumor only has people more engaged in it and will increase its popularity. Actions speak loud than words.

Acting Against

Destroying a rumor through pure action is the hardest, but most effective, route to take. For example, if word goes around that you’re the office bitch and you won’t say anything if the shit rolls downhill to your desk, then you’re going to have to be pretty aggressive and slightly obnoxious in order to fight the rumor. A simple polite refusal, even though it’s going against the idea people have of you, won’t do anything in the long run. In this case you’d actually have to speak up and tell the weasel that he should be doing his own work and that you have way too much for people to start pawning their crap onto you. It may not be pleasant, but destroying a rumor is dirty work.

Have a Wingman

Sometimes, a rumor is so powerful that whatever sneak things you say will mean dick all. In this case, it’s time to bring out the “big guns.” You need to get a friend of yours to spread your good PR. If he can manage to sneak a compliment about you into a conversation like “Joe may sometimes seem like a shy harmless guy, but when he gets upset, legs get broken.” Having someone candidly mention something about you, even briefly, makes the listener feel as if he’s heard something un-staged and, therefore, true. This makes him much more likely to pass the message on and spread the newly injected counter-rumors about you.

Shut Down the Shit Factory

If you’ve ever lived through a werewolf outbreak, you’ll know that the only way to cure the epidemic is to kill the original werewolf. In the same way, to destroy a rumor, you must target the source. In a small environment, anyone that has heard the rumor is likely to have heard it from him. If this is the case, then discrediting his name might just clear any rumors about you. Try to throw in a comment or two about how he enjoys spreading rumors about everyone in the office. If people think that they might also be a victim, they’re likely to forget about anything they heard about you and, in the future, not listen to anything the original shit disturber has to say.

The Prince

Should someone confront you and ask you if the rumor about you is true, I don’t care how angry you are, you have to give off the impression that the whole thing is a stupid and silly playground drama. If you’ll learn anything from Machiavelli it’s that you’re more influential when you’re loved than when you’re hated. Tell the confronter that it’s a silly rumor and that all Mr. Knob Job does all day is spread rumors for shit and giggles. A light-hearted composure means that the listener’s defense and suspicion is down and he’ll more readily accept your message.

Walk Away

When all else fails, sometimes the best thing to do is to totally ignore the rumor. In most cases, rumors become uninteresting or replaced. In such instances, you can sleep tight knowing that you’re boring old news that nobody cares about anymore. If no one raises anymore dirt to your name, then you have no reason to get all huffy and puffy about what happened in the past.

Stick to the High Road

I don’t care how much these rumors twist your panties, Shirley; you are never to retaliate with another rumor. Firstly, when the original shit disturber finds out, he’ll have no remorse and he’ll drag your name through shit. Secondly, if this turns into a two way piss party, credibility to both your names will be lost. Your image will be reduced to that of rope-skipping school girl. Whatever decisions you make, keep cool. This is damage control not a die hard with a vengeance.

Much like a jigsaw puzzle, there are an infinite number of ways you can screw this up and only one way to get it just right. It’s critical that you think about the situation carefully and decide what course of action is right for you. The better you handle this ordeal, the less you have to worry about future rumors discrediting your name. Just remember to be cool and confident.