Don't play dumb. Don't act like you have no idea about what people are saying about you
. Acting clueless will only make people think the rumors are true. There's no point in acting like you haven't heard the rumors if everyone else in your school or workplace has. Acknowledging that you know a rumor is going around about you is the first step to tackling it.
If someone mentions the rumor, you can say, "I've heard that that's been going around" or "I know what people are saying about me."
Better yet, beat the rumormongers to the punch. If you know a vicious rumor is spreading about you (and fast!) then you can even tell other people who haven't heard yet about it. They'd be more likely to be on your side if they heard it from you, than if they heard it from the rumor mill.
Don't let them see how much you care. Avoid acting openly angry, upset, or hurt about the rumors. Even if they really were very mean and painful, if you let yourself get upset publicly, then you'll be letting the other side win. If you really are upset about them, talking to some close friends will help much more than letting the world see you get upset. So keep a stiff upper lip, keep your head high, and don't let them get to you.
The other thing is, if you act very upset because of the rumors, everyone will be convinced that they are true.
Don't fight fire with fire. Though it may be tempting to fight the rumor with a different rumor, you should take the high road and not fall into the low-life business of spreading rumors. Sure, you can spread a rumor about the person who started it, or spread a completely different rumor just to make people stop talking about you, but if you do this, chances are you'll only make things worse and will look desperate and like you aren't any better than the person or people who spread the rumor to begin with.
Remember that in the end, you want to come out on top. You want people to respect you and to think that you're a worthy person. If you want to maintain a level of respect even after the vicious rumor is spread, then you have to continue to keep your head high, instead of thinking, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," which will get you nowhere.
Talk to an adult or authority figure if you have to. Sure, talking to an adult or your boss about vicious rumors may not be fun, but it can get the person who spread them in trouble and can make you feel better about the situation. If the rumors are being spread at school, for example, and you know exactly who started them, then talking to an authority figure can give the rumor-spreader a good scare and can get the rumors to stop as quickly as possible.
This is a tricky one. It's up to you to determine whether you need to talk to an adult or if you can handle this on your own.
Stand up for yourself. Don't confuse taking a stand for integrity with "being defensive". Find a platform where you can communicate your side of the story. Since silence is not always so golden, it is good to have some things you can be prepared to say: "I do not believe that is true." or "This appears to be an unfounded (or vicious) rumor. Such things can do a lot of harm." Look people in the eye when you say that.Make sure your side of the story prevails.
If people ask you about the rumor, you should stand up for yourself no matter what. If you brush it off or act like you don't want to talk about it, then people will believe it's true.
Determine what lends credibility to the rumor, and stop it. People are more likely to tell rumors that are plausible, and that hinge on the existence of suggestive evidence. For instance, a rumor about a workplace affair will take off if the two people involved flirt in the office, or sit together every day at lunch. Once you determine what is feeding the rumor, take steps to remove it, if you can. Don't bother thinking "Well, they shouldn't assume that" or "I should be able to do what I want without them thinking such and such." The point is, they do, and as long as you continue the behavior, the rumor will continue to spread.
Of course, if you're doing absolutely nothing to fuel the rumor, then there's nothing to change. And even if you are doing something to potentially cause the rumor, don't be hard on yourself if that's the case!
Prove that it's not true if you can. If you have evidence that can prove that the rumor isn't true, then you should put it forth. For example, if people are saying your boyfriend isn't real, bring him to the next party. If people are gossiping that you don't know how to swim, throw a pool party. If you can produce a document that can prove the rumor false once and for all, don't think it's beneath your dignity to do so.
Of course, one of the problems with rumors is that they are so hard to disprove. Don't scramble for evidence to the contrary if you simply can't get it.
Broadcast the rumor. Yes, that's right. Verbalize or post the rumor in a prominent way. By acknowledging the rumor, you're taking away some of its momentum. Rumors spread like wildfire because the people who spread them do so in order to gain social status, and that depends on them having the "inside scoop." If you broadcast their "inside information" then they won't have any motivation to spread the rumor. Everybody will already know!
Of course, if it's deeply painful, then you may not want the world to know. But if you think talking about it to everyone is the easiest way to prove it's ridiculous and to make it go away, then go for it.
Confront the source. If you know who spread the rumor, then you may want to talk to the person who did it. Be civil and keep your head high and talk to the person honestly about why he or she spread the rumor and acknowledge the trouble it's caused without looking too upset. Say something like, "I know we're not exactly best friends, but spreading false rumors about me is not the way to resolve our issues."
If you don't want to face the source alone, bring a few friends. Of course, don't put yourself in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation if you know that talking to the person in question will simply do you no good.
Take care of yourself. Rumors can make people upset, angry, or even depressed. No matter what people are saying about you, keep your head high and remember who you are. Don't let other people determine your value in this life and stay strong, no matter what people are saying about you. Make sure to spend time with good friends, get enough sleep, and to maintain your self-esteem in spite of what people are saying about you.
You may be so busy worrying about how to convince people the rumors aren't true that you haven't spent time taking care of yourself. Well, you've got to focus on yourself -- instead of the meaningless hurt caused by others -- if you want to go back to having a happy, healthy life, so that let us stop rumors.