WhisperI still remember the day we played a game back in school where the teacher asked all of the students to form a single-file line at the front of the class.  We did so wondering what the teacher was up to.  She said, “Class, I’m going to whisper something to the first student at this end of the line.  That student will whisper what I said to the next student and so on until we get to other the end of the line.”  She then whispered something into the first student’s ear and on down the line it went.  

Adults can be every bit as childish when it comes to gossip and rumors.

**Picture courtesy of ikeepsafe.org**

When we got to the end of the line, many of the students were laughing, shrugging their shoulders and wondering what the point was.  I was somewhere in the middle of the line of about 30 students.  The teacher asked the last student what was whispered into his ear.  He said, “Its cold out.  Wear your shoes.”  The first couple of students back at the beginning of the line started laughing with puzzled looks on their faces.

The teacher asked the girl to tell the class what she whispered into her ear.  The girl said, “It’s going to snow.  Don’t forget your shoes if you wear your boots.”  Everybody laughed and after a minute the teacher asked us to return to our seats.  She explained, “Class, the point I was trying to make is about gossip and rumors.  The more people that passes them on, the more distorted they become until the no longer resemble the truth.”

That was a pretty thought provoking lesson for our 5th grade class.  Mrs. Bohms was one of my favorite teachers.  She must have noticed some sort of grade school nonsense going around and decided to play that game to make us all think about it.  Unfortunately, not everybody learned this lesson as a child.  Adults can be every bit as childish when it comes to gossip and rumors.

In time Gossipers will discredit themselves.

How to Deal With It

Confrontation – Confront the source(s) of the problem.  Ask them why they’re spreading false rumors about you.  Explain the truth of the matter to them and politely ask them to stop.  

Ignore It – Many people are non-confrontational.   If you are uncomfortable confronting the source(s) of the gossip, then just do your best to ignore it.  Even if you first attempted to confront the source(s) of the rumor, ignoring it is usually the next step.  

It’s not easy.  It’s a test of patience and forgiveness.  Or as I jokingly refer to similar situations, “It’s a character building moment.”  I’ve written about examples of gossip and rumors before concerning the youth sports forums and social media.  We cannot control what others do, say or think about us.  We can control our actions, what we say/write and how we feel/think.  

Nobody’s perfect.  We all make mistakes.   I’m certainly no angel.  And I’m sure everybody at some point in their lives has been guilty of spreading gossip and rumors.  When it comes to children, we expect them to make such mistakes and hopefully one day learn from them.  As for adults, don't play those Reindeer Games.  If you have an issue with somebody, confront them about it or let it go.  In time Gossipers will discredit themselves.

This is the time of year when many people make resolutions for the New Year.  Since you’re reading this blog, I’ll assume you might like to read a good book now and then.  I would like to suggest two of the best books I’ve ever read about character and living a good life, which I referenced in another article a year ago, The Proper Perspective & Humility.

Character Matters

Character Matters: Nine Essential Traits You Need to Succeed by Mark Rutland

 John Wooden

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflection On and Off the Court by John Wooden and Steve Jamison