Each evening when I watch the 6:30 national news on TV, there will be some amount of rumor sprinkled among the stories. If I let the TV stay on after the news on our local ABC station, an entertainment show of Hollywood-related stories comes on – a series of sometimes far more rumor than news, and not one that I really care to watch. Since I work in a Fortune 100 company with 40,000 people and manage its internal social network of nearly 22,000 people, there are ample opportunities daily to see posts related to various rumors. You don’t have to go too far in your daily life if you interact with many others or expose yourself to much media before you hear any number of rumors.
Take, for example, the one that has again been in the news recently thanks to his new book needing free publicity from complicit journalists and reporters – Arnold Schwarzenegger. The big, marriage-ending scandal came earlier amid rumors of him having a child with his housekeeper. They were only rumors, of course, until something happened – and that something was for the truth to be told. Then there was no longer a need for rumors.
When we observe the behavior of businesses and hear speculation about new products, mergers, acquisitions, changes in management, etc., they are rumors – sometimes well-founded and sometimes not. They only remain rumors, however, until the undeniable truth is told by those in a position to do so. Afterward, there is no need for rumor.
Rumors can bring excitement and anticipation such as in the latest Apple product launches which the company plays up to maximum benefit. Rumors can also be damaging to companies, careers, stock prices, individuals or other organizations if the nature of the rumor is harmful whether or not it is ultimately found to be true.
In the case of an Apple product launch, the pre-release hype thrills the company. They’d like it to continue. In the case of harmful rumors, though, it is important to squelch them as soon as possible. The only way to do that is to disclose the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Leap year lesson #277 is The cure for rumors is truth.