Friday, March 9, 2012

unfounded and confounded


One of the most disappointing situations we can ever find ourselves in is being on the wrong side of an unfounded accusation. It’s frustrating. An example of the unfounded accusation:

“I heard from so-and-so that you said this and that about me.”

“What do you think about that?”

“Well-l-l…It doesn’t really sound like something you’d say.”

“Exactly.”

Sound familiar? I can’t even be bothered with defending myself in this situation. Either you know me or you don’t. If you know me, you should give me the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t know me, you should know better than to randomly attack the character of someone you don't know.

I’m not a gossip. I don’t waste my time spreading stories about people that I know or that I don’t know. Frankly, if someone anywhere, at any time tells you I said something hurtful about you, instead of getting upset with me, you might instead consider why that person is giving you that information.

Say what?

Yes, I went there.

When a “friend” relays some piece of hurtful information, under the guise of “helping” you, or “just trying to be a good friend,” I have to wonder how “helpful” that “friend” is really trying to be. For the sake of argument, let’s say I wake up tomorrow and decide I love to spin stories about people I know. I start to burn up the phone lines with wild tales that are so bad, they’re good. Right. But even if I did do something like that, why would the person I am talking to run to you? Will the information help you in some way?

How?

Because as far as I can tell, spreading gossip is just as bad as making it up. The person gleefully dispensing the information may not have started the juicy rumor, but they sure are feeding the fire. If you find yourself on the wrong end of a rumor, instead of getting angry at the person who “started” the gossip, try exercising a bit of wisdom from an old friend of mine:

Consider the source.

When someone tells me something that doesn’t sound right to me, I don’t just think about what the person is saying to me. I wonder why they are telling me that bit of information. I wonder about the timing.

I wonder if they are telling the truth.

To drive the point home, I asked a good friend, a really good friend, what she would do if another one of our friends approached her with a story that was attributed to me.

“I don’t get it. What do you mean, if you said something about me? Why would you do that?”

“This is just for the sake of argument. Imagine so-and-so said that I said this-and-that about you.”

“Why would you do that?”

“It’s just for the sake of argument!”

“OK, but it seems pretty stupid.”

(Sigh) “I know. But just tell me, what would your very first reaction be?”

“I’d wonder why so-and-so was making it up. I know you’d never talk about me. You just...don't do that.”

Right.