Dollars and Sense: Most workplaces abound in rumors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rumors abound in all organization &045; social, political and of course, on-the-job. All human beings desire to know things that will affect their lives, and rumors are the lifeblood of the invisible communications network that exist wherever people live or work. Because many rumors are true or partially true, they become a significant source of information and often help people prepare for situations that may shortly occur.

However, if the rumor is false or misunderstood, it may cause irreparable damage.

Rumors as a communication tool

Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush often used rumors to test how some of their ideas might be received.

One of their key staff members would &uot;leak&uot; to the media the name of a candidate for an appointment or a plan for a new proposal.

If there was a negative reaction, the president would claim it was a false rumor.

If it was well received, they’d go ahead with it.

Dealing with rumors you hear

Listen and learn. Some rumors are true or partially true. Check out what you hear. If untrue, ignore it. Never spread rumors just to sound important.

Be non-committal. Do not comment on the rumor. Respond with neutral statements such as; &uot;Really?&uot; &uot;Is that so?&uot; and

&uot;That’s very interesting.&uot;

Ask for details. Many rumors are very vague.

Try to obtain as much information as you can. Ask:

&uot;What’s your source for this information?&uot;

Double check. If this rumor involves a serious situation, never accept it or take action on it until you check with other sources and assure that it is true.

Don’t commit yourself to any action based on a rumor.

Often when a person spreads a rumor, he or she may ask you what you intend to do.

Your best answer is &uot;I’ll have to think about this.&uot;

Rumors will always be with us.

Most people get a feeling of importance in telling other what they believe is &uot;inside information,&uot; but unless you know that it is true and you have your superior’s authority to discuss it, it is good policy to keep what you learn to yourself and not be a part of the rumor network