ARE YOU A TARGET OF GOSSIP AND RUMOUR?

The synonyms of the word ‘Rumour’ are comment, news, fabrication, report, falsehood, scandal, gossip, story, hearsay, suggestion, hoax, tale, whisper, word, lie, innuendo.

There were 16 such words above that were quite relevant to the word ‘Rumour’, but out of those 16 words, 10 are extremely negative. All the previously published articles have explained about this topic in detail. But we all agree that rumour never does any good to the gossip mongers or the victim of the same.

I was wondering about the person who becomes the topic of discussion among many, about whom the rumour is being spread, who is blamed and accused indirectly instead of being talked or addressed in person or face to face. Just imagine how hurtful it is to be the topic of discussion for no reason. Just imagine how the person must be leading his or her life when he or she knows that there’re people talking behind him or her falsely.

A rumour about someone who is innocent can cause majorly four damages to that person:

  1. It destroys his/her REPUTATION
  2. It pushes him/her into NEEDLESS MENTAL STRESS
  3. It makes him/her to SELF-ALIENATE from own people even
  4. It stops his/her PROGRESS for SOMETIME or for LIFETIME

But I want to focus on the part where we can get out of this phase of being the target of rumours and gossips and live out our life as we, our family and our God intended for us.

I am very much aware of the rumours and gossips that have been spreading around in our community concerning my inability, my sickness and the assumptions they cook out of them.

Am I affected by it?

Yes, of course! I feel my reputation is spoiled, I avoid to face certain people in my life, even I avoid to talk to people over the phone, I suffer from regrets and mental stress… BUT I never allowed them to stop me going ahead…

Why and How?

‘How to handle rumours when we are the target?’ – I have FIVE solid steps that I follow and can help all of us dealing with rumours and gossips when we are the victims of it.

  1. Step back: Stepping back from the situation and the negative emotions surrounding us, temporarily help us big time. When the fire flares in front of us, we step back reflexively before we plan to control it. It is the same way that we need to follow when we face the flares of rumours and gossips trying to burn our reputation. Acting on our negative emotions like revenge and anger can cause more problems to us, so it is wise for us to step back for some time, till our negative emotions towards the person or the whole situation dies down.

This stepping back has always helped me to reorganize my emotions and reacting impulsively has always put me into shame and disgust. Take my words… I have gone through it.

2. Forgive and forget: When we step back, we plan to deal with the situation. We struggle to be at peace at the memory, the hurts haunt us. We might feel that avenging the person who wronged us or seeing them punished would give us peace of mind. But that’s not the truth. A negative feeling won’t be eradicated with another negative act. Only forgiving and forgetting the person who had done wrong to us with the help from above divinely can actually calms our hearts and minds down.

Today, I was talking to someone who wants to see her perpetrators to be punished in front of her eyes so that she can have peace. But I lovingly made her understand that’s not how someone can attain peace. It is only forgiving the person who wronged us, can allow God to work within us and we can have peace that is beyond human understanding.

3. De-identifying from the situation: We have a habit of identifying ourselves or relate to the situation very quickly or quite impulsively. That pulls us behind always. A rumour is an act of a person who is flawed. Though we are not perfect, yet we need to remember that someone else’s remark or the remarks of people don’t certify our characters. So why to identify or recognize the situation as a reflection of us or our characters? De-identifying from the situation is absolutely fantastic to deal well with the rumours and gossips against us.

4. Refocus and Look at the bigger picture: I always try to apply this step in my life. My future doesn’t depend on what people think or say of me. I am solely responsible for my life, no one else. It is only God who can make me or break me. I know this truth yet at times I struggle because of what people talk behind me, close ones spread rumours about me. I falter yet, try to shift my focus ahead instead of looking here and there.

Looking at the bigger picture of our life is important instead of dwelling in the mess created by some gossip and rumour mongers.

5. Respond to the person who wronged us: This step is optional. This step can be taken when we have come out of the mess completely and have built ourselves to help others going through such difficulties. We can go up to the person who wronged us or spread rumours about us and explain how hurtful what he or she did to us. It is always good to let the person know how it feels. But this step can be avoided if we are not confident enough to face the man or woman caused us so much pain.

Are you a target of gossip and rumour, today? I want to encourage all of you to follow the above mentioned steps and what Rajnandini suggested in her article on this topic – “I would urge you to take your hurts and scars to God who would heal you and fill your heart with His peace.”

While closing this article, I want to address to the people who knowingly or unknowingly become the medium of a rumour or lie about someone who is innocent. I will just quote a verse from the Bible for them where it instructs to think and understand about a few attributes that are very essential for our as well as the welfare of others… And in that list ‘following what is true’ is mentioned first.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friends! Let’s choose TRUTH over LIES. Let’s turn away our ears from rumours and strive to search and research the Truth about everything and everyone. Let’s not heed a rumour and participate in a gossip journey which can be hurtful to someone who’s innocent.

Stay watchful and careful of rumour and gossips…

Stay Blessed!

KICK AWAY THE RUMOURS

For years together it was believed that the earth was flat. Someone somewhere on the basis of some assumptions would have come to this conclusion which would then have been ‘proven’ on the basis of a few known facts and vehemently supported by well-meaning intellectuals of the time. With the spread of this information/ misinformation from ear to ear, people worldwide assumed the earth to be flat until a Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the earth and proved otherwise, substantiating the claims of others with beliefs similar to his own. How many wrong notions would have been prevented only if people did not spread unverified information in those early days!

Just a month back, reports announced discovery of 3,500 tonnes of gold valued at 12 lakh crore in an eastern Uttar Pradesh district in India. What soon followed was elation by the district administration along with speculative preparations as to how the gold could be used. The raging rumours were put to rest in a matter of few days by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) which stated that the quantity of gold that had been discovered was 160 kilograms and not 3,500 as had been clearly exaggerated. That was the end of the rumour.

Rumour and gossip – are both same?

Though the two words are at times used interchangeably, there is a fine line between the two. Gossip is unrestricted conversation about people or events. What is being gossiped about may not necessarily be false or exaggerated. The purview of gossip is generally within a social circle or a limited sphere. Rumours, on the other hand involve circulation of unverified or doubtful information. They seem to be true but may not essentially be true. The scope of the spread of rumours is without bounds. Japanese American sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumours as “improvised news” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply. In other words, people need something or the other to talk about all the time.

Which types of people generally create and/ or spread rumours?

Though all people are instrumental in creating and spreading rumours (even if unintentionally), there are certain types of people who are more active in this area.

  • People of talkative nature
  • People of suspicious attitude
  • Attention-seeking people
  • Hedonistic people
  • Sadistic people

Why and how are rumours spread?

What is very interesting to note is that some rumours are absolutely baseless. They might have been started by attention-seeking hedonistic people but thrive by the constant transmission by unsuspecting others who do not bother to double-check on the facts. To give an example, in the present days of the pandemic Covid-19 there is a picture of a teary-eyed man doing the rounds in social media circles with the caption stating – it wrenches the heart to see the Italian Head of state shedding tears on the present state of affairs. Well, the fact is that the picture is not of the Italian PM but that of the Brazilian President and has no connection whatsoever with the current world situation. How many thousands would have forwarded that post (and still continue to) can be reserved for speculation!

Though some rumours are momentarily entertaining, not all are harmless. Think of the bloody communal/ racist riots and hatred that spread because of one igniting rumour. Thousands of people end up losing their lives, amiable relationships become constrained, property is damaged and peace is lost. At times, generations continue to be victimized for one rumour which caused certain uproar years before.

Rumours cause way more damage than can be repaired. They can leave people emotionally scarred for life. Many relationships have broken because of rumours questioning the fidelity one of the partners by mere outsiders. Rumours, especially those that are personal in nature reduce self-esteem of individuals and cause a decline in overall performance efficiency. Grapevine communications in most organizations pass on opinions and suspicions that are way too damaging.

What do you and I need to do?

We live in times when rumours are plentiful, spread at galloping speed, are made viral for commercial gains and take violent turns too. How can we respond responsibly?

Speak less – This is the all-purpose antidote to the many ills caused by the jingle of our vocal cords. Hence, refrain from unwanted gossip. 

Use leisure time productively – Rather than catching up with similar minded gossip mongers or picking up the mobile and calling up people one after the other in free time to feast on juicy stories, its wise not to fall victim to such idle time indulgences.

Beware of the ‘forwarding addiction’ – Some of us can’t help but forward texts, posts, videos and any content that we feel ‘others ought to know’. But, it is imperative to remember that at times we do more disservice than service to others and ourselves by such of our actions.

Do your research – Whether you desire to share information or not, always verify information received from others before you choose to believe them. Verify information before you can call them ‘facts’.

Share only authentic information – Before you share information, make sure what you share is authentic and necessary/ beneficial for the other person/ others.

Break the chain of rumours – Just as you need to exercise caution not to create or believe in rumours, you need to take a stand against relishing, propagating and seeing rumours spread. Stay away from rumour mongers!

Apologize if you have in some way spread a rumour or created one – At times, we become a part of the chain of spread of rumours either because of ignorance or because of a failure to verify facts. In such times, it is pertinent to issue a word of apology as soon as the truth meets the eye.

If you have been victimised by a rumour

If you are a person who has been victimised by rumours either at an individual or societal level, take time to deal with it. No, I won’t suggest you to laugh it away – because not all rumours can be laughed away. Neither, would I suggest that you wait for an opportunity to avenge. But, I would urge you to take your hurts and scars to God who would heal you and fill your heart with His peace.

Final Words

Each of us is accountable before God for all that we say and do. There can be no blame-shifting before Him. So it would be wise to verify all that we believe in before propagating the same, lest it would result in some irreparable damage to self or others.

THE GOSSIPS AROUND A YOUNG GIRL

As an IT Professional either you work as a team lead or work under a team leader. As far as my knowledge is concerned you lead a team. Probably you are a wonderful leader. Every time you work among people or with people. And when there are people, there are gossips and rumours. Some are lies, some are true yet hurtful. Have you ever heard your teammates talking against you? How do you react to the gossips and rumours that go on against you? Do they help you develop yourself or demoralize you? Do those pinching words and statements make your life miserable or they benefit you to rectify yourself for a better you?

This is the problem statement given to me by my leader in Candles Online and I think he knows me really well to ask me this question. I can write a book on this topic but I think I would end up sounding as a victim if I do so. This topic really touches a sensitive nerve and I can only share limited information because this is a public platform and people reading this article know me and probably work or have worked with me. If I wrote this as an anonymous, I would have revealed a lot of secrets than I do now.

I was 20 days away from my 22nd birthday when I joined the corporate life. It was right after my B.Tech that I joined an MNC (US based) and was new to Bangalore. I was a super-excited kid then, high on ambitions and a little bit careless and immature. Little did I know then that I was embarking a journey that will define me and my personality!

I joined a team which was male-dominated – in a team of 30 people we were only 4 women. And 2 of us were from the same college joining together. Other two were quite high in experience. Rest of the team was full of men in their mid to late 20s or even mid-30s. Well, initially it was all good. I loved being a part of this team. It was just perfect. Everybody was super helpful and they made me a part of this family in no time. I thought I made some great friends but I was not aware of the fact that friends made at the workplace are usually just meant for work.

Within 6 months of joining I was given a raise because I did some good work. But along with that I also got a shock of my life. It was apparent that people recognized my talent but sometimes I felt that I was being given too much importance because of that. Then one day I heard a lot of people laughing and gossiping in the next cubicle. Curious as I was, I peeped in to know what the joke was. By then the guys were quite comfortable in my company – so they said: “we are not able to decide whether to hire the green girl or the red one”. I was confused. “What do you mean?” I asked them. None of them said anything and walked away. I was curious so I poked a guy who had become a good friend by then. He said “Interviews are being conducted for further hiring. They were joking whether they should hire the girl in the green suit or red top.” I was shocked. “What? How does that even matter? How capable are those girls?” I asked. “How does it matter? Whoever is the prettiest will get picked?” He laughed. I almost missed a beat and not only that my shock was quite apparent on my face. He got it and said “Oh, don’t worry. Everybody is aware of your talent now.” “What do you mean ‘now’? Tell me what criteria was I hired on?” I almost shouted thinking hard what I wore on during my interviews. He hesitated and then said “Ok, if you really want to know. You didn’t do very well. You got most of it only partially right.” I was crying inside and trying very hard to not let it show. “Well, were there other ‘guys’ who did better than me?” He smirked, “Yes, from your college only.”

I remember this incident very well. Because that was the first ever shock I got in my corporate life. I thought everything was perfect and I had landed in a perfect place, a perfect team. What, I was hired to look pretty? My first reaction was to just resign but sanity took better off me and I decided to continue just to prove that I am rather talented and much more than most of them. So I became competitive, a bit too much maybe. That really went in my favour but all the while there was a sulking negativity inside me.

This same guy who had revealed this information to me, later on, went on to propose me for marriage. I refused since I was not in a state of mind to think about it. C’mon I was just 23. He got engaged quite soon in an arranged manner but for a long time, other teammates believed that I was heartbroken and sad because of his marriage. I continued to get a lot of attention in this area which I simply hated. Why did they want to interfere in my personal life? I can never understand. These rumours really irritated me to the extent that I completely cut off from this colleague with all personal aspects.

There is one more incident that stands out. I got a chance to visit the US in 2007 just a year after I joined. It was for a specific project and I was super excited. I had to travel with 3 other colleagues of mine. None of them was really good friends of mine. I was a very open and friendly person. I was a kid who used to speak her mind. I never really cared at that point of time “What would people think of me?” So the first weekend in the US, I asked these guys out for a swimming session. I was very excited because the hotel had a heated pool and the idea was too exhilarating for me as I love swimming. One of the guys agreed to join me. As a result, we met at the agreed time and I changed into my swimming costume and we had a good one hour of swimming which was very relaxing yet tiring.

Next day when I went to work, I got a ping from a colleague who was in India. And he asked me “How my swimming session was?” I was surprised. How did this news even travel thousands of miles? Was it a big deal? Well yes, it was. Apparently, every detail of that one hour was discussed which included the details of my swimming costume as well. Trust me, I really devastated after listening to all this. It was horrible. I felt so lonely in that country that I gave up the idea of studying abroad and working there. All I wanted was to come back home and be with my people. Well, it wasn’t possible then. I was there on a 3-month project, so I decided to confront these guys. I did but it just ended up in a fight and a bad argument.

Yes, I am an open-minded girl. I like to dress up. I like to party and all. But how does that ever mean that I am seeking attention or I am ‘easy and available’. Well, that was what my image became after a few years of working in that team. I was linked with a lot of men even after I was married. I hate to remember that time. I have only recited a couple of incidents but those few years that I worked there – it was really bad. Sad as it is, I was not aware of any harassment at workplace policy neither did I take pains to figure those out.

Once I even heard a horrible comment passed for a girl who worked with us for a very short duration before she was fired. She was extremely pretty and was fired because she was extremely poor in her performance. The comment that was passed for her was – “Why did they have to fire her? All she had to do was to kiss each one of us every day. That would be enough for us.” I was flabbergasted when I heard this. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak and retaliate. The only thought that ran again and again in my head was “Am I also talked about the same way?” Well, that comment was made in front of me without being scared of me. Why did I let that happen? I still don’t know. I probably lacked courage in letting such men know how they are supposed to behave. And because of that, I ended up being a victim.

I should have stood up for what I felt was wrong and insulting. Instead, I tried to be “cool girl” who doesn’t care. I should have spoken about it and took help from authorities to rectify so much that was wrong. Instead, I just stayed silent and tolerated. I took these guys to be my friends, believed them to be my own people when I constantly felt insulted by them. There was constant fear that kept growing, that fear was of being judged for every choice that I make. Choice of picking up what to wear each morning to the choice of laughing at somebody’s joke, choice of trying to be one of them and choice of talking to them and those multiple choices that I made during those years. One fine day when I decided to quit, everything ended just like that.

When I joined the new place, I decided that I want to be known for my work and not for anything else. It has been almost 5 years since that era ended and I lead a team now. I believe I am known for my work and I think I am happy with the way I have proven myself (to me). I made some strong rules when I joined this organization.

  1. No friends (especially male)
  2. No nonsense. Just talk work and come home
  3. Work super hard. Keep the focus always on work
  4. No extra-curricular. Earlier I used to participate in dance competitions, sports competitions and other such stuff.
  5. Always remember what you are being paid for and how you are returning back to the organization.
  6. Follow your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable – speak up and loud.

My current organization has a good male to female ratio, so that really helps. Although, it was a horrible time that I went through in my first organization – I have become a much better and matured person since then. Every incident helps us to grow. Every person who comes in your life comes to teach you something. I have been through counselling and therapy sessions to get over the impact of all those years. It took time to rebuild my confidence and become who I am today. So, today I do not hold any grudges to any of the people I came across earlier.

I hope I answered your question well, Charlie!

LET THE LID OFF

 

Long back the Welsh post W.H. Davies opened his famous poem ‘Leisure’ with the lines –

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

These lines stand true even today, in fact, in a more profound way. Technological advancements, considered to be a mark of development were meant to make life easier, simpler and less hectic. But, a peek into our own lives and into the lives of those around us would surely give us a different picture.

Before workplaces were digitized, manual paperwork mounted pressure on both employees and employers, and of course resulted in systemic delays. Today with digitization, we still have overworked employees with employers desperate to continue their visibility in a market of steep competition.

Without home appliances, household work seemed so cumbersome. Now with tools and appliances of all possible types, the pressure still remains.

Pressure is not merely the presence or absence of certain elements (people, situations, conditions) in our lives, but also the perception of it all. Take a school/college examination for example. One student feels pressurized to perform well, whereas another is too cool about it (keeping all other conditions constant). Both write the exam and score approximately the same. What’s the difference? One was too anxious. The other was not.

While many of us are made to feel the pressure and acknowledge the same, some are more prone to picking up the stress from the air just by the sniff of some probable occurrence. While there are no cut-out solutions for all types of pressures, some coping mechanisms that work well in most pressurized circumstances are worth enumerating.

  1. Avoid gossip, suspicion, scandals and rumours of all types in all circumstances. Of the major sources of unwanted tension/ stress/ pressure are these listed above. Do not let these dwell in your heart and mind. Somebody has written the following lines very aptly –

If some bit of gossip come,

File the thing away;

If a scandalous, spicy crumb,

File the thing away;

If suspicion comes to you

That your neighbour is not true,

Let me tell you what to do –

File the thing away.

 

Do this for a little while,

Then go out and burn the file.

                                                                                         – Anonymous

  1. Delegate responsibilities and tasks. You may be the best planner in your house or the most meticulous performer in your team. Still, do not shoulder the tasks of everyone upon yourself. One clever way of people shifting their share of responsibilities on to you is by a word of appreciation. Don’t be deceived. Stick to your work. Of course, you can lend a helping hand to others. But, do not be too naive to fall prey into such tactics.
  2. Do not procrastinate your to-do tasks. Prioritize instead. When there are too many assignments for a given day, we tend to put off certain tasks for another more convenient day. At times when the time constraint is real, such a step is needed. But frequent procrastination when chores can be well done the same day, leads to piling up of tasks and hence, an increase in situation.
  3. Open the lid when required. Imagine a pressure cooker that doesn’t let out the accumulated steam. Such a pressure cooker is a faulty appliance and is a potential threat to one’s safety. In the very same way if you allow too much pressure to pile up within you, you put yourself at risk. So, let the steam out.
  4. Take time off. Take time off from work to be with family. Take time off from family responsibilities once in a while to rejuvenate yourself. Work these out and you’ll be amazed as to how your productivity and efficiency be it at home or work, improves.
  5. Do not keep abuse to yourself. If you are a victim of any form of abuse be at home or work, do not keep the saga to yourself. Don’t endure the pressure by building tall walls around yourself. Share with trusted people and seek help.
  6. Alternate caregiving. If you are taking care of an ailing family member, keep alternate caregivers handy. They may be relatives or friends or hired helps. You need to avoid the burn-out so that you are available during the most crucial times.
  7. Seek suggestions. When in dilemma, especially during phases of decision-making, seek suggestions from experienced people. Don’t lead yourself to splitting headaches thinking about the pros and cons of things you don’t know much about.
  8. Find ways to give vent. Hit the gym. Cry. Sing. Spend time in the lap of nature. Talk with friends. Eat your favourite delicacy. Visit the shopping mall of your choice. 
  9. Share it with God. No matter what be the pressure situation in your life, you can share it with God. Pour out your heart before Him. He may seem to be a silent listener. But, He is a compassionate worker behind the scenes as well.

Apart from these general tips of handling various pressures, situation-specific ways of coping with pressure will be discussed in different articles this week.

Remain stress-free and release the pressure.