I’ve been in the same career for eleven years. I just started with this company a year ago. For the whole year the owner loved everything about me. My experience was just what his company needed. Boy was I in the spotlight. Now, there are certain people who despise me and start rumors and they are really hitting home. I am thinking about finding a new job. I don’t know how to control these rumors I’ve seemed to take this to heart. Can you help?
Target of Rumors
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY DR. RICK BRANDON AND DR. MARTY SELDMAN
Dear Target of Rumors,
It is very possible that the heightened visibility and recognition you have received this year has made you something of a target. When you add the incentive of hurting your reputation and driving you from the company to feelings of envy, people unfortunately behave in the way you are describing. You certainly would not be the first person this has happened to.
Their tactics of using their long term relationships and networks to “manage the airwaves” against you and create a “negative buzz” can definitely do damage, so you are correct to take it seriously. We think it is premature to decide to leave because it is not yet clear how much this has hurt you in the eyes of the owner and whether the negative impact can be reversed.
Our advice is to try to understand exactly what people are saying about you. Use your network to find someone to give it to you straight even if it upsets you.
Once you understand this “buzz” it is useful to separate it into two “buckets,” reality and perception.
The reality bucket is for any of the comments that are accurate or have some aspect of reality incorporated in them. If any of the buzz falls into this category then the best approach is to talk with your supervisor, indicate that you have received this feedback and develop a specific plan to address the issues. If you honestly believe that the “buzz” is basically a false or distorted perception then you still need a plan to manage and change the perception. Don’t simply dismiss it because you believe it is not true. Develop a plan to visibly demonstrate that the buzz is inaccurate. If you can, enlist allies who will go to the key decision-makers in your organization and speak up for you. Also it is very important to monitor your words and actions so that you don’t inadvertently reinforce the buzz and give ammunition to the people who are trying to undermine you.
Only after trying to change the buzz and concluding that it has in fact caused the owner to turn negative about you would we consider the option of leaving. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Rick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. Co-authors,
Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success
Rick Brandon, Ph.d. and Marty Seldman, Ph.D. are Co-authors, Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success. Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America’s most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.