Learning that people are gossiping about you can be devastating. Telling yourself not to take it personally sounds good, but often doesn’t work so what can you do?
Manage your emotions. You can’t control the rumors, but you can control
your response. Many people initially respond with horror, anger, anxiety, or helplessness. Take time to cool off. Get Perspective. Talk to a close colleague about what is being said. Use calming strategies like breathing, mindfulness, working out, or taking walks.
Practice self-compassion, and even forgiveness. When you forgive someone, the person who benefits most is you. It helps you move on, improves your health, and generally lightens your mood. It’s not all about you. People gossip, tear you down and snipe to protect themselves.
Be more direct if you know the source of the gossip. Approach them in a sympathetic, non-confrontational way, to win their support. Explain your perspective and the personal pain that the gossip caused you. Start by saying: “I’ve heard that you said the following about me.” Briefly state what you heard and add that next time, you would appreciate them coming directly to you.
Time is on your side. If gossip is rampant, there is always a new victim. Your reputation is built on a large body of work across many co-workers. One inconsistent bit of sabotage is harmful in the short term, but not long term. Your actions will prove them wrong.
Focus on what’s going right. More positive things happen to us than negative ones. Focus on the joy you derive from family, friends, hobbies, sports, or service. Feeling grateful is helpful.
You are not alone. Other coworkers have probably experienced chronic gossip which often means that there are much larger issues.
It’s painful to be the subject of gossip, particularly one that has no basis in reality. You can’t control what other people say about you, but you can control how you respond.