Steer Clear of the Water Cooler: How to Avoid the Rumor Mill

For decades, explaining what couldn’t be understood through the Rumor Mill has been the usual behavior in everyday corporate life. Because of fear, lack of knowledge or data, messages, and statements get produced and reproduced for thousands. These words travel fast. And then, after a while, some beliefs are so well-established that it is really difficult or even impossible to change them. The problem arises when these beliefs are, in truth, just rumors: stories and ideas that are not true or at least not entirely.

The ideal workplace includes cooperation, empowerment and open communications. Get everything plus a pinch of fun, come work with us!

How are Rumors Born?

There are a lot of ways to create a rumor. Most of the time, people don’t realize this is happening because there is no way to know what’s going to become what.

A very common situation which leads to a corporate myth is to express or distribute not accurate or truthful information. It’s easy to repeat some ideas just because you’ve heard them. For instance, you hear somewhere that Mary always arrives late. You don’t need to take a megaphone and shout the message from the rooftops to start a rumor. It may already have happened in your mind. Now you truly believe Mary is always late for calls, for school, for doctor appointments. Your next thought: “Mary is unreliable. You can’t count on her for important matters or events, and much less to give her the responsibility of holding an important meeting.”

You’ve have started the Rumor Mill, and you haven’t even spoken to Mary, or gotten to know her!!

Rumors don’t only carry a negative meaning. They may also show something or someone as the best one in their field when, in fact, it’s not the case. How many times haven’t you heard about the Hercules in your company? Then you meet him and what a disappointment! And you ask yourself what has happened there.

How to Demystify Your Company

At this point, effective communication and explicit messages are the keys to make the difference.

Ask questions

Don’t take for granted everything you hear is reliable. Challenge it. Expressions like “a lot,” “always,” “never,” “all the time,” “just a few” are keys to inquire a little deeper.

  • Why are you saying that? Can you give an example of that situation/ problem/ issue?
  • How often does this issue happen?
  • How many times have you personally witnessed this scene?
  • What’s your source? — This is also helpful if you are a CIA or KGB spy. Let’s not limitate our audience!

Check the Information

Confirm personally or with very trustworthy people. Ask the people involved in the subject.

Replace Rumors With Facts

From my point of view, this is one of the most mature ways of dealing with myths. It is not easy or fast, but gather the information, analyzes it and numbers speak!! “This happens 1 out of 10 times. That example we all know was very circulated just because…”

Differentiate Observations From Opinions

Observations are objective.  “This presentation has ten slides.”

Opinions are mostly subjective. It’s what someone thinks of other person or thing. “This presentation is too short/ too long/ lacks content..”

And finally, as my grandma would say: Don’t gossip!

But well, we are just humans…

The ideal workplace includes cooperation, empowerment and open communications. Get everything plus a pinch of fun, come work with us!

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