Wrongfully Accused of Spreading Rumors

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about spreading a rumor:

Five people mentioned that two people in a place of work were sleeping together, I said have no idea and don’t really care. I spoke to one of the individuals who said it was a rumor spread by his work colleague who admitted the rumor spreading. The other person involved has now accused me of spreading the rumor. I said I spoke to one of the individuals involved and I have not said anything further. This person insists I was spreading the rumor. What can I do? My reputation in the community is very important.

Signed, Didn’t


Reputation matters. You are wise to want to clear your name from being a spreader of gossip, especially lies. However, apparently, you did listen to five people or to someone who said five people said that two people in your workplace were sleeping together. And you did then inquire if that were true, something you did not need to do. Therefore, even if you don’t want to admit it, listening to and inquiring about a rumor is a form of spreading it.

Now you don’t like being accused of spreading the rumor by one of the individuals involved. What can you do to get back or to earn a good reputation? In this case, you had best admit to yourself that your participation in listening to the rumor and following up on it by asking if it were true was in fact spreading the rumor. Then also admit it to the individual who insists you spread it and apologize for listening and inquiring if it were true. More than 2,000 years ago, the sage Aristotle told us that one’s credibility depends on being a person of good sense, good moral character, and goodwill. And among other things, that means not to participate in gossip. If in the future you hear such a rumor, don’t perk up your ears. Simple say as you might have, “I don’t know if they are. If they are, that’s their business and I don’t care or want to talk about it.” And after that you will bite your tongue rather than to talk to anyone else to learn if it is true or false.

Communication can’t be undone. So now all you can do is to apologize if you are further accused and to say, “I’ve learned not to even listen to rumors. I’ve apologized for asking if it were true. So let’s not talk about this any more. Please.” Be a person of good character, good sense, and goodwill. That’s best way to establish and re-establish a good reputation. People of good character are more readily believed than others.Aristotle also when asked what a friend is, advised, “A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

In the workplace you don’t have to have close friends, but it is important to be friendly. One of the lessons you have learned is that at work you are hired to work and not to join in with gossip. Admittedly, in addition to a friendly hello and “see you tomorrow”, some small talk is expected–about safe topics such as the weather, the news and taxes, but talk about coworker’s private lives should be out of bounds.” But focus your attention and communication on the job; cutting wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money.

Your reputation will not be further harmed if you focus on your job and on doing what you can to make coworkers’ more effective and easier. My sermon has ambled on more than necessary to say that I predict that one who cares about her/his reputation as do you need not worry further. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and I can tell that you are a person with a good heart or you wouldn’t have written us about your reputation in the community.

William Gorden