Been Badmouthed? What Can You Do?

You have already approached this person in the past about their negative comments, but they just don’t seem to understand that you don’t appreciate what they are saying about you. Depending on who this person is and where it is taking place, you may want to be very careful how you deal with the situation so that you will not look like the temperamental, angry, crazy one.

Most likely if you heard about the gossip it came from someone who doesn’t really care for this person either. Determine how significant this gossip is to your reputation by observing how other people have handled the gossip in the past. Some people may have ignored him or her, stop inviting them to events, decided to leave them out of gift exchanges, didn’t bother to acknowledge them during holidays, and conveniently left them out of news about family and friends. You have a choice of how you will handle this negative person in the future.

Some gossip may be big enough to start a firestorm of other gossip and eventually get someone fired. If you are experiencing this, here is what you need to do. Go to your boss and tell them what you have heard them say about you. Share your truth with your boss so that he or she will not assume anything about you. Remind your boss of past issues you have had with this person. If you have a Human Resources office at your workplace, write up a report and have them stick it in your file. You may want to get a mediator involved if the gossip has worsened and confront he or she spreading it.

Once you have discussed the matter with the boss, notified Human Resources, and possibly shared your truth with others, if you haven’t already, journal what has happened on which days and include a time if you can. Later, if anything else should come up about the gossip, you will appear to know what you are doing and have a solid case to stand on in front of a board. If you can get others to talk to you about their experiences with this negative person, then note what they have told you as well. They may or may not deny ever having a conversation with you later, but it will be hard for them to argue against a specific time, date and location when you both talked.

When it comes to addressing matters of gossip with family members it is better to discuss it when no one but the offender is present. You want to be respectful but firm. Always opening your discussion with a statement then followed with a question. “I am aware that you have been making XYZ statement about me and would like to know why?” He or she will most likely deny ever saying anything. Allow them to speak, and then tell them, “I would appreciate it if you and anyone else in the family would come to me with a problem and not go around talking about me behind my back. If you or anyone else can’t do that, then it’s best we don’t associate with one another.” He or she may not want you to become distant, because they may be relying on you or they may not want to be the one talked about later for driving you away. When you approach the offender, you always have the upper hand to make things work in your favor. You may have an even better approach, but remember your goal is to come away with the bigger person.

With 20+ years of experience writing CVs, it still puts a smile on my face when I hear a client has secured an interview Lee Tonge - Founder and Director


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