Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bold in the Face of Gossip?

A very juicy account of our most recent presidential campaign is released today: Game Change by New York magazine writer John Heilemann and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.

I've only read an excerpt and I won't burden you here with the scorching details, but the intimate material about one failed candidate's family life was pretty stunning.

I started to think about how I'd deal with such a public onslaught. I can well imagine I'd find it devastating. A lot would depend of course on whether what's said is true. But it could be pretty rough either way.

I wondered how people go on, what the principles are for self-management and care in such a situation. I found a bit of good advice on: "How Do You Deal with Gossip that Damages Your Reputation?"

"How do you deal with the gossip? That's simple - you don't. Not at least, as far as defending yourself, against those who are gossiping.

Hold your head high. Live by example and allow the gossip that tarnished your reputation, die a natural death. You don't have to defend yourself or your tattered reputation. Just let it be. Those that know you, won't believe the gossip. Those that do, have issues bigger than yours.

Gossipers can be insidious people and they can become a victim of other gossipers themselves. Gossipers feed on gossip. Today you are the talk of the town - next week it will be somebody else's turn."

I'm quite the gossiper myself these days (whereas as a teenager I was quite high-minded). I don't like the idea of the gossiped-about individuals suffering. But I do love to read scurrilous bits of news.

I thought about this matter back during the Watergate days: how would those implicated face the rest of their lives? Well, they turned out to be amazingly resilient. Getting religion seemed to help a lot. And writing memoirs. And in the case of Bill Clinton, going on heading the ship of state.

If you have other good strategies, I'd be interested in knowing. My next novel--which will someday emerge--is a trifle shocking.

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Anonymous said...

tuff not to fite back or trace bad rumor to source--onceimpeccable sources let me kno exactly who had told others that i had bad relations w/ women & had thrown a chair @ a customer, both so untrue & potentially damaging that it puzzaled & troubled me. discussions w/ my most trusted friend/wife , & w/ 2 dear colleagues led me not to confront the source , partly cz it was so bizarre i feared an even more nutty!!response or messy denial. let sleeping dogs ...
worked out as far as i kno--anyone who really knos me wldn't belisve it, & anyone who didn't cldn't credit a denial from me. i do wonder sometimes what crap some unknown folks mite believe abt me & pass-on damaging untruths --mabe someday i'll learn more abt it--meanwhile i live happily & practice integrity as i have , not forever, but for several decades.

Peggy Payne said...

Anon, I think you handled all that well, and with admirable restraint. The heart of what you're saying--"anyone who really knos me wldn't belisve it, & anyone who didn't cldn't credit a denial from me"--is absolutely on target, but so hard to remember in the heat of the moment. Also, you seem to be honest with yourself and others.

Anonymous said...

yes, i'm open & honest as i can be w/ myself, & w/ important others as well; also w/ others when there's no danger of misuse of my stuff .AIKI

Peggy Payne said...

Valuable trait. Though I guess it's really a behavior. A trait makes it sound inborn and easy. Like having brown hair.