The Rumor Mill: How to Avoid Being the Talk of the School

7 Tips for protecting your reputation and preventing bullying

two girls gossiping

Everyone knows how the rumor mill at school works. One person tells another person something and before the day is over almost everyone at school knows about it. If you are the focus of this type of gossip, it can be extremely painful. And if the gossip makes it online, it can feel like there is no escape.

While you can't completely protect yourself from becoming the subject of the rumor, there are some things you can do that will help you stay under the radar at school.

Here are some suggestions for not only protecting your reputation at school but also for preventing bullying.

Avoid sharing too much information. This concept of oversharing is especially important online. If you share every detail about your life with others, you are opening yourself up to gossip. People can take the issues you allude to and blow them out of proportion. As a result, the little spat you had with your best friend turns into something far worse once the rumor mill starts and it could result in a ruined friendship.

Consequently, avoid posting about issues with your parents, problems in your love life, thoughts about others and anything that could be used to spread gossip. It is also a good idea to think about all your selfies before you post them. Selfies can quickly become fodder for the rumor mill too, especially if they are compromising in any way.

Stay away from mean girls, cliques and bullies.

While this may seem obvious, many people desperately want to climb the social ladder at school so they develop friendships with people they think will help them get there. Many times, these types of people are known bullies that use peer pressure, relational aggression and cyberbullying to wield social power.

And there is no guarantee they will not bully you, even if you have built a friendship with them. Remember, these friendships are not healthy friendships. So you should not expect that they will function in healthy ways.

Refrain from flirting with someone else’s significant other. Nothing puts you at greater risk for gossip and rumors than flirting with another person’s boyfriend or girlfriend. It just makes sense that if someone is in a relationship, you should respect that boundary. If you do not, then you surely will become the talk of the school. What’s more, you may be subjected to bullying, cyberbullying, name-calling and even slut-shaming. Remember, that no relationship is worth damaging your reputation over.

Control your temper, especially online. While people may find it entertaining to see you lose your cool and they may even applaud you for telling someone off, it also surely sets you up for the rumor mill. Remember while they are watching as you rant about something at school, they also may be videotaping you. This videotape could then end up on YouTube or as a Vine.

Likewise, if you rant online, others may screenshot your comments and share them later. Even if you delete your comments after the fact, they could still be out there for others to see.

What’s more, after your outburst you are likely to notice that others are whispering about you and laughing. Do yourself a favor and keep your temper in check and practice impulse control. When you do, you can avoid being the source of other people’s entertainment.

Never engage in sexting. Aside from the fact that sexting has enormous legal and emotional consequences, it also can make you the subject of rumors and gossip. And these types of rumors can ruin reputations and make recovery extremely difficult. As a result, you should never engage in sexting no matter how much peer pressure you experience.

It never turns out to be a good thing.

Monitor your actions outside of school. While you may feel like what you do outside of school is no one’s business, doing something risky could land you at the center of the rumor mill. You never know who you will run into at the most inopportune time. Or worse, you may not even know someone saw you until you check Instagram and your photo is there. As a result, it is always a good idea to conduct yourself appropriately and avoid doing anything stupid.

Refrain from subtweeting and vaguebooking. You may think that you are being subtle when you post a vague tweet about your ex-boyfriend, but most of the time people can figure out who you are talking about. And even if they have it all wrong, your passive aggressive posts have given them something to gossip about. Be sure you to keep your posts and tweets upbeat and presentable. Remember, colleges and future employers will be looking at your social media use as well. So keep that in mind anytime you post something.

Choose clothing with school in mind. Everyone knows that clothing, hairstyles and make up allow people to express their personalities. And while people should not be penalized for being unique or expressing their individuality, there are some types of clothing that should be reserved for other occasions. As a result, choose your outfits with school in mind and abide by the dress code. If you wear something risqué to school and then get slammed with a dress code violation, people are going to talk. Keep the comments and snickers at bay by making conscious decisions about your attire.  

Be authentic and truthful. Never exaggerate the truth or make up things to appear differently to other people. If you are honest and straightforward, people will have a hard time believing lies about you, especially if you admit to any truths in a rumor right away. Remember, rumors are often based on some sliver of truth with a lot of embellishment. So it is better to set the record straight in the beginning.

Do not play dumb or act like you have no idea what people are saying about you. Acting clueless makes people think what others are saying is true. Instead, you can say: “I have heard people are saying that. But they have the facts confused.” Then admit to what it is true and leave it at that. The key is to be authentic, honest and calm. Do not get emotional about what others are saying. Just focus on setting the record straight and then be done with it. 



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