I have a friend who works in an environment (a school) where two women there seem to take great glee in spreading rumors, gossip and innuendo.

When the bad economy hit, and our state couldn't balance its budget, the school laid off a number of workers, including my friend (because her position was part-time). During that time, the two women who still worked there took great pains to make sure that my friend could not visit the department, even calling security on her once (she was there for official reasons).

A year later, the school offered her her old job back. Since then, she has been getting along reasonably well with the other people there (including the two gossip mongers). However, she discovered that some other women in a different department have been giving her the cold shoulder, apparently because they have heard all of the rumors, gossip, and innuendo about my friend, and have assumed that it is all true, when in fact none of it is true.

Should my friend do anything about this, and if so, what?

asked 19 Nov '10, 23:28

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 20 Nov '10, 20:30

I used to care about what people think. But gradually, with time, I have learned that when I do what I want to do and ignore what everybody else thinks, I get the best results in life.

In your friend's case, so what if a couple of people don't like her because of some rumours they heard? Does she really want to befriend people like that who believe any rumours they have heard instead of meeting and talking to the person and making their own opinion about that person? I wouldn't waste my time, personally.

Is reputation worth protecting?

Reputation implies that there are a set of rules that other people are measuring you against. This is a flawed system to begin with. How do you judge in a universe where everybody is different and have chosen to live different lives, what the 'true' criteria should be for rating everybody?

Protecting your 'reputation' will lead to doing things to retain the approval of others. In other words, other people will end up 'controlling' you. The way we can truly be happy is when we are true to ourselves and do the things we like to do irrespective of the opinions of others.


answered 20 Nov '10, 09:12

Pink%20Diamond's gravatar image

Pink Diamond

When I first read this I could not help but think of this wonderful Zen story. I tell it often and really points pout the pointless activity of defending ourselves. I often joke and say other than bodily harm and a maybe a law suit, I see no point in defending myself.

Here is the story.

A traditional Zen Story – Is That So?

“There was a Zen Master who was very pure, very illumined. Near the place where he lived there happened to be a food store. The owner of the food store had a beautiful unmarried daughter. One day she was found with child. Her parents flew into a rage. They wanted to know the father, but she would not give them the name. After repeated scolding and harassment, she gave up and told them it was the Zen Master. The parents believed her. When the child was born they ran to the Zen Master, scolding him with foul tongue, and they left the infant with him. The Zen Master (1) said, “Is that so.” This was his only comment.


He accepted the child. He started nourishing and taking care of the child. By this time his reputation had come to an end, and he was an object of mockery. Days ran into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. But there is something called conscience in our human life, and the young girl was tortured by her conscience. One day she finally disclosed to her parents the name of the child’s real father, a man who worked in a fish market. The parents again flew into a rage. At the same time, sorrow and humiliation tortured the household. They came running to the spiritual Master, begged his pardon, narrated the whole story and then took the child back.”

His only comment: “Is that so.”


answered 20 Nov '10, 15:39

jim%2010's gravatar image

jim 10

I hate that. I have been blamed for others mistakes. The more you try to explain; the worse it looks like you did it. For me there is a certain power in being defenseless. Then if they cross over a certain line I have to act. For each person it would different. In the end I usually don't care what others think. I would usually tell them to get a life.


answered 20 Nov '10, 04:32

Tom's gravatar image


The other way is to keep killing them with kindness. The small people will move on to someone else.

(20 Nov '10, 04:34) Tom

Does your friend want to do something about it, if so she can approach the Union Stewart, since Gossiping in the work place is inappropriate behavior? Or she can arrange a meeting with the people to discuss the rumors she has been hearing, or she can choose to ignore, or disregard the gossip.

If the situation is really serious and it is causing her emotional stress in the work place, then by all means she needs to file a written complaint to her HR Department!


answered 20 Nov '10, 06:48

Inactive%20User's gravatar image

Inactive User ♦♦

Personally, I think there is more power in not doing anything about it. I know when someone talks ill of us, our feelings are hurt and there is a natural tendency to want to defend oneself. However, from what I've observed in situations like this when we try to defend, we are in fact giving some sort of credence to that gossip. When we know that it's not true, there is in fact nothing to defend or do because the gossip is merely a misconception on the part of the other and so it is really their problem.

People often tend to gossip about others when they are feeling jealous of them ( maybe your friend can find a little consolation in the fact that these gossipmongers are in fact probably jealous of her ) or insecure about themselves, but the gossip is actually like poison to their own system. The best thing you friend can do is turn the other cheek as opposed to adding fuel to the fire. By doing nothing the gossipmongers will actually give up a lot sooner or find another target in an endeavour to satisfy their own insecurities.

And by not reacting you friend will in fact show them that she is secure in who she is and doesn't need to stoop to their level to prove that. Her reputation needs no defending - her own opinion of herself is all that really matters.


answered 20 Nov '10, 13:59

Michaela's gravatar image


Years ago I've been where your friend is, and the rumours were spread by my supposed best-friend at the time. Here is what I did, Nothing. I just went on being myself even though the pain cut deep. A year later, others came to me and appologized for their behaviour and explained how they wronged me by believing my former friend.

Thank you, namaste


answered 20 Nov '10, 15:56

daniele's gravatar image


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Asked: 19 Nov '10, 23:28

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Last updated: 20 Nov '10, 20:30

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