Effective Strategies For Dealing With Urban Legends
A rumor is a “tall tale of reasons for actions not intended as stated” – Wikipedia. So when I hear someone say, for example, “I was at a party last night where this and that happened,” I tend to take it at face value, without considering the possibility that the statement might be untrue. If you are thinking about starting a business and want to make sure that your good name will not be affected by rumors, remember a few simple rules:
First, if you are a person who is susceptible to rumours, you need to be aware of what they are. Rumours are very contagious; a person who is easily influenced by them can become a victim of their own carefully fabricated version of reality. You may be able to control some of the more common examples of rumour behaviour by making yourself aware of what is often said about you on the social scene, but you cannot rely solely on your awareness to stop all forms of gossip from circulating through your social circle. That said, however, you can be aware of some of the more subtle forms of gossip and be able to respond accordingly.
Second, it is important to consider the difference between true and false allegations of the type known as urban legends or rumour. Urban legends are mostly simply gossip items with no apparent outside cause and origin. They are mostly accepted as being true because the people who circulate them have a basis for making the claims feel true to themselves. The only reason someone would circulate a urban legend is because it fits well with their own self-image or story of growing up in certain circumstances.
On the other hand, false rumours are generally started by malicious individuals who wish to spread their own version of events in order to negatively affect another person’s reputation. When rumors are spread about someone they know well, the person usually feels the impact of the rumour and either tries to confirm the rumour or tries to disprove it. In situations where the person has a reputation for acting under false pretences, the rumors will generally find their way into the public consciousness and find willing participants. Rumors are the product of the fertile imagination of those wishing to act under false pretences. Their only defence is to dispute the validity of the statement in question or to simply avoid the topic altogether.
It is in situations like this where strategic communication becomes absolutely essential. Where the goal is to reduce the impact of any rumor or rumors and where that involves a comprehensive plan to avoid such issues from escalating, one must seek effective strategies for dealing with circulating rumors. Strategic communication refers to a set of interconnected concepts that foster communication and discussion between people and groups and allow the free exchange of information and knowledge.
The problem with many rumors, whether they originate from official sources or from disgruntled employees, is that they make sense to the people who are participating in them. However, their overall effect is negative because they damage the reputations of those that they are aimed at. This means that it is often better to focus on spreading news about positive things than on spreading rumors about negative subjects. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to circulate negative gossip in order to bolster your own reputation, but when it comes to something as important as an urban legend, it is usually best to leave the gossip in the hands of professionals. After all, if you want to make sure that rumors don’t get out into the public consciousness, you have to make sure that they are taken seriously by all parties involved.