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I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Dear Sugar
I work in a relatively small company where the rumor mill is getting the best of me. I am the director of a predominately female staff and lies have been circulating around the office about me being romantically involved with one of my direct reports.

While my co workers and I socialize outside the office, I have never entertained the thought of dating a subordinate. Inner office dating is frowned upon at my company and although this gossip has no truth whatsoever, I feel like it is affecting my reputation at work.

Not only are people constantly talking behind my back, but this noise has made it incredibly difficult for my team. I feel like I am losing the respect of my colleagues and superiors and fear this situation will affect my growth at this company. I am very happy in my current position and need some advice to put an end to this gossip grapevine. Pissed off Paul

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Pissed off Paul
Hmm, this sounds fishy. Do you have any idea how a rumor like this may have gotten started? Since this is relatively out of your control, try your best to keep your head held high and to not let the office gossip get the best of you.

Are you being over paranoid that people are talking behind your back? If you see that your team's work and attitude is being affected by the rumor mill then talk to them in your next touch base meeting, but be prepared to answer any questions they might have for you.

The first thing I would do is put a stop to socializing outside the office ASAP. Since you are their superior, there is no reason to put yourself in a compromising situation. Try to brush the background noise off your shoulder and chock their story telling up to poor taste.

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tra tra 9 years
Next time someone from your team asks you to join them after-hours for a drink. Respectfully decline saying the rumor-mill is talking about this kind of thing and you're tired of assumptions being made about you that are completely false so you've decided to not feed them any further.
rustedwings rustedwings 9 years
I agree with the above, while it's great to socialize outside of the office with your colleges it complicates your work environment if it becomes a regular thing. If you're really friends with them and you know they're talking about it, maybe one time you're out with them mention if they're heard how fast the rumor mill is grinding about you, laugh about how it's not true and then move on to another subject. Short of posting a press release it will be very difficult to get this type of rumor to stop or to stop affecting your reputation unless you confront it and then make sure you act so that it doesn't happen again. Good luck!
Christina362536 Christina362536 9 years
Agree with both marci and dear sugar.. Its nice to be able to interact with your coworkers outside of work.. It makes it a fun atmosphere.. HOwever, your work is being affected by that. Stay in... meet people outside of work or go out with other friends! Take it easy and dont fret. If they see you sweat they'll think you did it!
Marci Marci 9 years
I agree with Dear Sugar here. Socializing with the people who report to you is one of the biggest mistakes any director/manager/supervisor can make. You can be friendly to a degree in the office, but not beyond that except for the formal office parties. It's just part of the job. Socializing makes everyone peers, allows us glimpses into the personal side of people, ingredients that can be deadly in a management/worker relationship, as is happening here. If you had never been hanging out with this group, you wouldn't have this problem because there would be no grounds for even questioning your behavior.
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