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Rumor Has It That...

Rumor Has It That...

Walk into most any workplace and, if you stop and listen, you'll hear the constant churning of the rumor mill. It's working overtime these days, just like anyone lucky enough to be employed. Though rumors can inherently imply something good or bad, the negative ones always garner more attention and greater credibility. That's probably because many of us are so much more likely to believe the worst in people than the best.

Think about it. Your colleague tells you he heard that Dan, a top executive at your company, chose to cut his bonus by one-third to save the jobs of two people in his department. What's your reaction? "Who did you hear that from? That's a crazy rumor. Where's the proof?." Now, let's say that this same colleague tells you he heard that Dan chose to increase his bonus by one-third at the expense of two people losing their jobs. What's your response now? "Of course he did. He's got some nerve. Who the hell does he think he is?"  Though you had no proof of the veracity of either rumor, you were more than skeptical of the positive hearsay yet readily accepted the rumor that cast aspersions on Dan's character.

No, it doesn't mean that you're a bad person. It may mean that you're a person who has been on the receiving end of disappointment, neglect, even betrayal. You have a stronger belief that people will do you wrong than you have faith that people will do the right thing where you or others are concerned. You are validating those rumors that reinforce your life experience and doubting or rejecting those that are in conflict with that experience.

Skepticism is healthy, but it should not be reserved for only the positive messages you hear. Be at least as skeptical of the negative rumors you hear about people as you are about the positive stories that come to your attention. Recognize that your life experience, while valuable, is only one measure by which to assess the truth of hearsay. Build relationships with people at your workplace. Communicate on a regular basis. Get to know who is trustworthy and who is not. And the next time a rumor is making its way around your workplace, take a moment to think before you react. You might just put your faith in the right person.

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