Sunday, 7 April 2013

Badmouthing, destructive criticisms, gossips - how to deal with these things?

A countless number of creative, talented people have been reduced to mediocrity just because of the bad and tricky games their toxic colleagues and their not very 'true friends' have played with them that had involved bad mouthing, destructive criticisms, and venomous gossips. Every day we hear and read stories about people being destroyed either career-wise or personally. Each one of us will surely have something to tell about at least one such bad experience of being victimized. Such stinging incidents that had occurred at a crucial time in a person's career can have long-lasting negative impacts in the future.

It is surprising to note that such negative things exist almost everywhere in the world. I need not elaborate upon but we can see problems like these widely prevalent in varying degrees in families, societies, Companies, Government and private organizations etc. It is a human tendency that common men tend to believe such things because of the saying “No smoke without fire”. Naturally, people form their own opinion about the person being targeted, influenced by the bad mouthing, destructive criticisms and venomous gossips initiated by somebody or by a group of persons/lobby having some vested interest(s) or sometimes they simply do it for fun. People almost always enjoy such shows when they were not the victims but once they see themselves as target the whole thing becomes a nightmare for them as well with devastating consequences sometimes. Their self-esteem gets eroded, confidence level dips, happiness threshold goes up, more stress is induced, productivity drops with depression setting in some cases.

We can see so many instances like this right from childhood onwards as examples of such negative influences that made wonderful people shrink into self-made shells. They were made to believe that they were mediocre, imperfect, not good enough, untrustworthy etc. Envious classmates, bullies, the so-called “true friends”, relatives and later on some colleagues all actively take part in this game of “bringing down others”, a fun-filled exercise, to get intoxicated themselves. Ultimately the “soft” hearted souls suffer. Some victims adopt a “tit for tat” policy and join the mainstream group of fun seekers. Some try to develop thick skins. Some become rebellious.

Very few only get professional training to deal with such situations. Some seek professional help and benefit with positive outcomes. But the majority are simply clueless about what to do. We don't see any type of professional help being offered in schools where young minds are moulded and that is exactly where such problems usually occur for the first time in life. How can parents tackle such a problem when they themselves were victims and doesn't know what to do?

Let us look into the ways to tackle such problems.

Make a list of all such incidents where you have been hurt in the past.

Be honest with yourselves. Write down everything in detail. Note down even the silliest, simplest thing that had occurred in childhood, in detail. Even if it is shameful, disgusting, involves somebody who was or is dear to you, it doesn't matter, just put everything into words. Let your mind speak out openly. Have the courage to express your thoughts!

Let the lava flow freely out of the volcano!

Now analyze those situations one by one. First, take the case that occurred for the very first time in your life.

This may be an incident that occurred when you were just 10 years old, like this imaginary story.

One of your friends lost his / her precious pencil somewhere. She/he immediately suspected it was you who had stolen it. But you were innocent. He/she promptly began telling everyone that you were a thief. Other students began looking at you suspiciously. The class teacher, to your surprise, question you and it hurt when you felt she also suspected you. You cried. Other friends began keeping a distance with you watching their possessions closely when you were around. You were very much hurt when you found your "best friend" trying to distance from you. But to your surprise one student who was not at all close to you before, whom you thought a bore began to smile at you and started talking to you as if nothing had happened. She/he told you to forget about the whole thing telling you that no one has proved that you were a thief by recovering the loot from your school bag. Moreover, there was no reason for you to steal because you had the best pencils in the class. He/she assured you that the 'lost/misplaced/ stolen by some other student pencil' would one day surface out of the blue. You felt happy, go home and discuss the problem with your parents. They both were actually arguing over something, what exactly you don't remember now when you presented your case. You felt they did not give adequate attention to the 'serious' problem you have had. Anyhow hearing your story dad became furious and told you to be bold and ignore the whole thing and be a real tough guy. You didn't know at that age how to "ignore" and be "tough". Of course you had seen a lot of action movies, the bold and tough hero thrashing the villains and coolly shooting them but in this case, you knew you simply can't shoot or thrash anyone. Mum did not say much. She told you that you are a good kid and was innocent. But you had seen her searching your school bag, why she did that you were not sure, while you went for play outside. Finally to end the story, after two days the "lost pencil" was retrieved by the student who “lost” it from one of the innumerable zipper pouches in his / her own bag. The precious thing was immediately shown off to everybody. But no one seemed to bother about the earlier accusations made against you and no apology was offered by anyone. But by that time things were almost back to normal in the class like before the incident and you didn't feel bad because everybody became friendly. Later on, the student who accused you became your best friend and still remains as one even after so many years. You tried twice to bring up this childhood issue to let your best friend know that you were badly hurt at that time but strangely he/she just laughed it away not even allowing you to start the story. To your surprise you also found yourself joining with his / her laughter. start documenting your first such incident.

What was the incident?
How it happened?
Who actually told you about it, if its a gossip?
If you happen to be somebody important or a celebrity where did you read about the gossip?
Why actually it occurred according to your judgment?
Did it affect you negatively and if so how?
Who all were involved?
How the incident affected your future life?
What did you do to get over with it and did you move on?
Anyone offered help?
Who all turned their faces away from you?

Now that you have all the data about the incident start analyzing the whole thing in detail.

Ask yourself questions even if such questions were disturbing to you.
Make a truthful assessment of the issue.
One of the troublesome questions is - Is this a constructive or destructive criticism?
Make a judgment fairly and not allow your negative ego to influence it.
Next thing to assess is - are we in any way responsible for such a badmouthing issue to occur in the first place? 
Did we offend consciously or unconsciously the said accuser(s)?
Find out with a balanced state of mind, without in any way getting carried away
with negative emotions, what actually has resulted in such a problem to occur?
Any hatred? Any envious issues?  Just boredom that made people spread such malicious rumors?
The key thing is that we must be truthful to ourselves in this dissection procedure.
It is important to control your anger.
It is important not to adopt a tit for tat tactic so sooner.

What we aim here is to tackle this problem in a positive way so that you emerge as a winner. If you find it difficult to do this exercise because of the magnitude of the potentially destructive criticism, badmouthing or stinging, venomous gossip seeks the help of your close friends with whom you can confide. If there is no one like that, you find yourself helpless and think you find it difficult to solve the problem by yourself or if it is making you suffer better seek professional help as soon as possible. If the problem is of corporate nature and you or your colleagues are the targets do the exercise together as a team.

By doing this exercise we may come up with some surprising facts that were totally out of your view till that time. You may suddenly recall that you have offended the accuser long before but never did care about it and when the time came he/she returned the same coin to you. You might have noticed many subtle signals of envy at your success that was given off by one of your close “friends” but didn't take those seriously and never thought he/she will become venomous later on. Your parents, relatives or friends could very well warn you about certain people who were your acquaintances but the reasons why they didn't warn you were not clear. There will be endless situations like this.

Like this analyze each and every incident in the list that you have made.

This exercise sometimes might give you the insight that you were attaching undue importance to many such incidents. In some cases, a simple confrontation would have solved the problem that you didn't attempt. In some cases, you never bothered to explain your situation to anyone. You just tried to digest the whole bitter thing. Some of the "friends" were venomous cheats but you still considered them as true friends and never distanced from them giving them chances, again and again, to make fun of you. Even you have taken them into confidence again by telling them about many of your life events and future plans. Instead of adopting a proper assertive attitude towards them you just suffered for no fault of yours. Some of the "mistakes" you thought you had committed were not at all serious or not even mistakes in the true sense but at that age, you considered them seriously and the accusers reinforced that belief in you. In some cases, you attacked the accusers with vengeance promptly inducing more stress in yourself. In certain cases, you also joined the team and adopted a tit for tat attitude later on.

So this exercise has given you a lot of insight into your life experiences.
  • How would you have handled those past situations in the background of your experiences now if given a second chance? 
  • Are you applying the essence of what you have learned from those experiences in the present situation to tackle it? 
  • Or are you still reverting back to the same infantile type of reaction that you adopted when you for the very first time were faced with such a problem?
Now start applying the positive things you have learned from those past experiences to the present situation.

Collect data.
Ask yourself the questions written above. 
Now the picture is getting clearer. You have found out the motive, you have found out who actually 
was responsible for the problem, how the damage was done, what actually was the intention etc.
Now stop being a pain sufferer.
Stop whining.


There is no one who has not ever been unfairly targeted in the history of the world. Even Gods were severely subjected to harsh criticisms. Every day we read so many gossips, most of which are bad, about celebrities even. They also feel bad when they hear or read about it especially if it involves something that is potentially detrimental to their personal or professional life. The general belief that they enjoy these types of gossips isn't true. Many actually suffer the pain.

So it is how to deal with this in a professional way to bring a positive outcome that is important.

Now it is time to take action.

First and foremost, you must sit and have a detailed discussion about the incident with whom who have told you about the bad mouthing that was going on. Only somebody like a close friend or relative will tell you about such things. Ninety percent of your acquaintances and that includes your colleagues as well, will not tell you openly or discuss with you but they will enjoy the drama that was going on. They think they will hurt you if they tell you directly or you may misunderstand them. But you will notice some extra-verbal signs and sometimes subtle verbal expressions if you are careful enough. You are not a fool not to notice such things that indicate they knew about it and is playing along with it. Some of them don't want to take any part in this drama and will keep away. They don't want to add oil to the fire. They also will not do anything to put the fire out. They will remain passive. Some others will add their own unique colors to the story and keep the fire alive. Less than one percent of people will show integrity, concern, and sincerity and might tell the accuser(s) directly they are not interested in such gossips and bad-mouthing. But such people are hard to be spotted nowadays.

You must explain in detail your version about the incident to your friend. If you have in any way caused embarrassment to the accuser(s) express your intention to apologize. Try to clarify your stand and express clearly what actually happened and how the incident occurred and how was it twisted by the accusers that resulted in bad mouthing. This friend or person, if convinced, will be able to dissipate the information to others resulting in damage control and will help in better image building for you.

This step will instill courage in yourself, improve your self-esteem and build confidence thus preparing you to take the next step. Now you will find someone approaches you and will direct the conversation to the problem at hand and this will give a chance for you to be heard by others. Most often this will take place in an Office during the break-time. Utilize the chance well but never get emotional. Use clear, well-rehearsed expressions leaving no chance to any sort of confusion. Practice self-control and deep breathing techniques. If the other party is also present you have to be cautious. Sense if the other party is looking for an argument scene and don't fall into that trap; the cunning person who opened up the issue may be looking for an open fight between you two to enjoy the bloodshed. Never fall into such traps!

By this time you will have some idea about which way the tide is turning. Modify your next step accordingly. If you are honest, sincere and open,  things will be in your favor. If your reputation is good and you were a team-player definitely you can expect many supporters. The moment the other party sees that you are taking positive action unperturbed he/she will lose the steam of the attack. There won't be too many listeners for him/her next time. You didn't confront directly but in a way, you have won the race without getting wounded.

Sometimes you will have to confront. This is not an easy thing to do at all. If you lose the cool then the other party wins. If both of you lose the control you can imagine what will happen. Many disastrous things have occurred by barbarian acts and physical violence. Always remember that people who initiate such venomous gossips are crooked and shady characters and they are looking for a fight scene. But you can confront not blowing your cool, in an assertive way and not in any way attacking the accuser. This type of confrontation shows that you are not jellyfish-like. Just let him/her know that you knew what sort of a person actually he/she was. Either he/she will keep a distance afterward or you also can do it for your own good as well.

If the Company you are working for is really professional the superiors might interfere in this matter and try to bring an amicable solution. But in reality, this often doesn't happen. If it happens, be open to everything. If they try to mediate to bring an amicable solution let everyone win. Compromise!

Sometimes it may be necessary to bring to the attention of the superiors the problem. But how far personal accusations can be brought to their attention is something very difficult to define. It depends on the Organization you are working for. Here trust your common sense and gut feelings.

Its surprising to note that even in top-rated organizations there is a lot of Office politics going on and partiality. Some organizations give a lot of importance to people who make more profit for them and tend to ignore their venomous behavior. It is sad to note that instead of devoting one's time and energy to be more and more productive people engage in such bad Office politics. No creative thinking takes place. No such activity like brainstorming. No group activities. What actually takes place is only mud throwing at each other. Unfortunately, there is no system in place even in very prestigious organizations to tackle such unprofessional incidents professionally. If a sense of team spirit is instilled, the giant-sized egos downsized, staff and the management think they are one family no doubt world will be a better place to live and work!

Well, this may be an unrealistic dream!

What I feel is there should be some qualified professional in each and every Organization who should identify such incidents at the earliest and take appropriate action. They must be responsible for the mental well-being of everybody in the Company including the CEO and the directors. Those people should not be practicing Counseling sitting in their arm-chair expecting people to come to them with their problems. Instead, they should mingle well with everybody in the Organization.

Such professionals can build bridges between everyone in the Organization thus minimizing or even eliminating venomous Office politics. Petty fights, envy, jealousy, unprofessional relationships, ego clashes etc. if nipped off early from the bud itself will greatly better the psychological health of the human workforce resulting in increased productivity.

It is always better to refrain from engaging in bad-mouthing, spreading venomous gossips and destructive criticisms. Tactfully discourage the accuser(s). Such a good reputation will come to your help when somebody targets you. And you might have noticed that such individuals have a knack of nullifying the negative effects of such dirty attacks. They seem not in any way affected or influenced by them. They just remain cool. It seems they gain more power out of it. It might even energize them more!

Direct your attention to the work at hand and let the creativity flow and energize you. If you are as hard as a rock, totally focused on what is more important and concentrated on the larger picture then nothing, not even the dirtiest personal attack can in any way affect you badly. Nature will defend you in ways we cannot comprehend. Universal forces will somehow protect you and punish the accuser(s). Moreover, don't lose your faith in humanity. There will be many who will be of help during difficult times.

If none of the above is possible and you are losing control don't be ashamed to ask for help. If you truly believe that you can confide in someone do it. Together try to solve the problem. If there is no one seek professional help as soon as possible.

If you believe in God and read religious books you will find how to pray when you feel bad in such situations. Prayer surely will strengthen you. Miracles do happen.

Practice makes you perfect and strong. Always tackle things in a real professional way. Never resort to immature ways to solve a problem. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. Don't overreact. You may tend to over-react if your mind is disturbed. Always try to be in a well balanced, stable state of mind. A multi-pronged approach is necessary to live well in tackling all the challenges in life in a winning way.

Develop a strong personality strengthening your weak traits and developing further the already strong ones. Train each moment to energize willpower. Always audit your thoughts and actions and take appropriate corrective measures if needed. Share the knowledge you have acquired with others. Instead of painting gloomy pictures about everything in society try to instill enthusiasm during casual conversations with other fellow human beings. Always be creative. Creative ideas stimulate your brain neutralizing the effects of negative influences. You are a unique person with a wonderful personality! Never portray yourself as someone mediocre.
  • Always keep these in mind - If there is a will, there is a way... There are solutions to each and every problem in life.  
All the best!

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Unknown said...

I agree completely with you!!
There are always solutions, sometimes they are a little bit hidden, but if you reflect before act, you will find them!!

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Yes, Silvia. No problem exists that doesn't have solutions.

jonathan said...

Most of my blog writings lately pertain to the ongoing problem of rumour and venomous accusations to me by some of my colleagues in school. I try to be strong and with the help of some close friends, I am surviving. I read this article and it gave me light. I will continue to follow the advices so that I can have peace of mind at work. If I didn't come back to read your past posts, then I won't stumble to such written treasure. Thanks for sharing!

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Welcome Jonathan and thank you for a wonderful comment like this.

I posted this some time ago very reluctantly. I was under the impression that such a topic will not be of interest to anyone. But to my surprise this post has been viewed by so many people in different countries according to the data analyzed, from Google analytics; some good people like you have been kind enough to write comments also.

I also have been subjected to such bitter things and I tackled it with great effort. It was never easy at all !

I can imagine the stress and strain an overseas employee like you must be facing ! But if there is a will there is a way !

Very happy to note that my post was helpful to you.I will try to blog more about similar topics.

You may please share this post of mine in your blog or other webpages by linking this post or adding on Google plus or Facebook.

Thanks again and be a winner !

Anonymous said...

This is a great positive article and shows that genuine confidence and security within oneself (something which should be present regardless of how much money one has, for example) will carry one through. It is also useful to talk about what one does and does not expect from different types of relationship into conversation and watch the reaction. Those who are insincere and or cannot step up to the plate will be afraid and disappear. They are probably not worth having around for moral support. You can give yourself your own moral support. The very first person to set me up for being attacked was my own mother, but it is very important not to see oneself as a victim and to grow a hard shell. Once they see you don't care and are invincible they will leave you alone.

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Cool comment :)
I appreciate you sincerely for writing this truthful comment. Practice, practice, practice to nullify such devilish attacks, never get affected, just repel it. Let the repulsion bombard the attacker !
Feel free to comment about other posts :)
Cheers :)

Joy said...

I can relate to what you had written coz I had experiences about that in my life. But thanks be to God that he helped me to forget, to forgive and be made whole again.
There are of course people who still needs help, so keep on sharing!

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Wow, Joy, beautiful comment !

Joy, this remains the most popular post in my blogs and I am surprised at this awesome reception by the readers ! Many have linked this post and shared. Ever since I have posted this article at least one person enters this search term of 'bad mouthing' into search engines like Google everyday and lands up with this post page in my blog.

I just summed up this post from what I have learned from different sources over a period of many years and also from my experiences in life. Glad this post has helped and is still helping needy people all over the world.

Please feel free to link or share this post as you wish, Joy :)

Cheers !

Anonymous said...

You have explained everything clearly detailing situations that happens to most of us. You gave a great advice in saying "Concentrate in your work and let the creativity flow". It is a wonderful thing to give importance once in a while to what we love and not to what we hate. Considering what is happening in the world nowadays, Ignorance is bliss. Thank You :)

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

'Direct your attention to the work at hand and let the creativity flow and energize you'. Purposely do it. If we plant in our mind happy thoughts, fertilize it with love and pluck the weeds of negativity we create bliss.
Hope you will comment about other posts too.
Thank you.

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