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Damaging Gossip..


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Old 18th July 2017, 5:44 PM   #1
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Damaging Gossip..

I ran into a bad situation today and I am livid.

I coach various sports and happen to work with a very talented female shot and discus thrower. She is an All-State athlete, works exceptionally hard and is coachable. This last year, I opened up the weight room and offered to do some off-season throwing with the kids but she was the only one that showed up and the hard work paid off. I don't dote on her but I certainly praise her for her hard work and dedication. I certainly don't show any favoritism towards in the classroom or on the athletic field as she almost failed my math class this last year. And her and I had several heated conversations in front of the kids when she wasn't honest about an injury and almost lost her chance to go to state.

Any way, enough of that diatribe... It came to my attention today that several ADULTS within the school are stating that I have a "thing" for her. Now, I don't know if this is originating from them or students but it doesn't matter; it is a ridiculous bit of gossip to be tossing around and potentially damaging to my career. This is particularly disturbing as I'm not one of those idiot teachers that has their students as "friends" over social media and/or keep in contact with them after school hours. I have never said or done anything inappropriate around her..

I went to my superintendent and laid the situation out for him. He's a pretty blunt guy and his response was "some folks have stated the opposite to me; that she has a crush on you. Maybe that is something you can address with her.." No way in hell am I going to seek this girl out and further this "Don't Stand So Close To Me" bull****.

So, I have one of several options at this point. I can just drop the whole thing and let the rumors fade away. Unfortunately, I have another two years of coaching and teaching this girl and I can only continue to do what I have which is be professional and keep my boundaries.

I can approach the two women that are running their mouths and confront them. This would generally be my first response to the situation but I work in a small town and that kind of confrontation would result in more fuel to the fire.

The third option is basically a nuke. I am a member of the school union and I can file a grievance against them to make a point. That's a big step but it puts everything out on the table, covers my a--, and forcing these two shrews to sit down on front of a lawyer would be an eye opener for them. This could also feed into the gossip but they may shut their mouths if they know they could lose their jobs in I choose to flex the union muscles enough..

Thoughts?
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Old 18th July 2017, 7:41 PM   #2
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Possibly 3.....I have friends who work in schools and these days perception is everything. You just have to be very careful. If you are in situations where you are alone with this student-athlete cease immediately. It's unfortunate but just the reality of the times we live in. CYA (cover your A$$) You've done nothing wrong, just trying to be a good coach, but the best way to deal with gossip is don't leave something out there that is worth talking about.
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Old 18th July 2017, 8:08 PM   #3
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As much as I wish something like this would fade away, I wouldn't count on it - freaking gossipers. I might strongly consider going with your last option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OatsAndHall View Post
The third option is basically a nuke. I am a member of the school union and I can file a grievance against them to make a point. That's a big step but it puts everything out on the table, covers my a--, and forcing these two shrews to sit down on front of a lawyer would be an eye opener for them. This could also feed into the gossip but they may shut their mouths if they know they could lose their jobs in I choose to flex the union muscles enough..
That would piss me the hell off too and I would not stand for any of that crap. It is a disgusting accusation and if left on its own, who knows what it might turn into. As much as it is an attack on you and your reputation, it is also an attack on the poor kid, who doesn't deserve to have anything like that being said about her, especially not by adults. Sorry you're going through that. It just seems like one problem after another with the women at that place.
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Old 18th July 2017, 9:07 PM   #4
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I think I'd talk to my supervisor one more time and ask him to, instead of having you change your behavior, which there's nothing wrong with, that he instead ask the gossiping adults to change theirs. Tell him you feel you've done nothing wrong, that you don't do social media or anything like that with students like so many do, and that all of this is unfounded. Tell them that you've seen no evidence this girl has a school crush, but that if she does, it's not from anything you yourself have done and that they should rest assured if she ever raises the subject with you, that you will deal with it in a straightforward manner. Tell him the unfounded gossip is unfair and if it doesn't stop, you will file a grievance.
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Old 19th July 2017, 6:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OatsAndHall View Post
I went to my superintendent and laid the situation out for him. He's a pretty blunt guy and his response was "some folks have stated the opposite to me; that she has a crush on you. Maybe that is something you can address with her.." No way in hell am I going to seek this girl out and further this "Don't Stand So Close To Me" bull****.
This part is the key to your answer..

So there is an issue that you must address and your superintendent even let you in on what it is but you are more interested in going after the gossipers instead of the real problem.

If you go after the gossipers there will be more of them that will start more gossip.

You state that you "No way in hell am I going to seek this girl out and further this "Don't Stand So Close To Me" bull****".

Why take this attitude if your superintendent has told you what he was told ?
I would pull her aside and gently let her know what has been brought to your attention and address it like a professional.
If you do this also think about doing in it in front of a third party or have a third party present in the room as sometimes these things can go sideways.
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Old 19th July 2017, 7:14 AM   #6
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I think its a tight situation...

I remember years ago when I took a gig as an instructor in a technical college..Mostly male students, there was one woman, who often would hang around after the others took off to ask me questions and ask for advice on different things...She may have been flirting, but I clearly remember not wanting to be anywhere alone with her for fear of the inevitable "chatter"...

Surprisingly, another instructor was flat out fired for actually hitting on the same woman/girl...

Its a bit of a different scenario, but the same applies..These type of one on one's are always going to be questioned...You haven't done anything wrong, but if I were you, there is no way in the world I would want to be alone with her...Particularly if you value the job..

Its sad that in this day and age we have to worry about this, but that's the reality...I think you can nip this in the bud, and avoid blowing it up...Just be sensible and realize why they are talking and how you can create a path towards making that go away.. Its noble to be a mentor here, but not of it starts to destroy your life..


TFY
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Old 19th July 2017, 7:36 AM   #7
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This is a tricky situation. Obviously, do not communicate with this student via text messages or any type of social media. Is there some way you can remove yourself from coaching/teaching her? Since the superintendent is aware of the situation, I would send the superintendent an email that goes over your meeting and reiterate your position as well as his comment about her crush on her. Make sure that you forward your email correspondence to your personal email account to save for any future use. This is just an extra way to CYA.

Are you sure that these two women are the ones spreading rumors about you? I wonder if the student is making comments herself in light of the superintendent's comments.
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Old 19th July 2017, 9:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OatsandHall
And her and I had several heated conversations in front of the kids when she wasn't honest about an injury and almost lost her chance to go to state.
You have to be the one to watch boundaries and to step back from any situation that could lead to further gossip. Sometimes when you develop a bond with a particular student, you might be placing expectations on them that aren't fair to them or to your other students. Instead of one on ones, try to have another staff member around to verify, for any future record.

Last edited by O'Malley; 19th July 2017 at 9:30 AM..
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Old 19th July 2017, 10:25 AM   #9
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File the grievance! NOW!!

Make them explain themselves before a third party.

Best course of action. Do it before this all goes sideways on you.
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Old 19th July 2017, 1:15 PM   #10
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Hmm, dont say anything else on the matter. Just don't be alone with this girl if possible. If it's just the two of you in the future just let her go. She's may tell her classmates etc and hopefully news will travel.
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Old 19th July 2017, 5:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Art_Critic View Post
This part is the key to your answer..

So there is an issue that you must address and your superintendent even let you in on what it is but you are more interested in going after the gossipers instead of the real problem.

If you go after the gossipers there will be more of them that will start more gossip.

You state that you "No way in hell am I going to seek this girl out and further this "Don't Stand So Close To Me" bull****".

Why take this attitude if your superintendent has told you what he was told ?
I would pull her aside and gently let her know what has been brought to your attention and address it like a professional.
If you do this also think about doing in it in front of a third party or have a third party present in the room as sometimes these things can go sideways.
Pulling a sixteen year old girl aside and having that discussion would make things much, much worse and would NOT be professional. Even with a third party present. I would be talking to a hormonal teenage girl about an extremely touchy subject (her having a crush on me) and nothing good would come out of it but more gossip. I have taught and coached for many years and have learned to keep female students and athletes at arm's length and that will continue. Every dealing with a female athlete or student needs to have CYA written all over it. Hell, I asked a teenage girl to abide by PE dress code once as she was wearing a sports bra and tiny shorts to class. I ended up sitting in a principal's office with two parents and an irrational, lying fifteen year old who claimed that I was "checking her out". Thankfully, I had twenty five other students in that class to vouch for me.

The people that are at fault here are the thirty plus year old gossipy women who apparently have zero common sense and either don't know or don't care about the potential ramifications of their crap. They are not only putting me in a bad spot but they are making this girl look like a bad as well.Teens are going to be teens and gossip; it's just a fact of life. Two "adult" women don't have any excuse for this behavior.

I have talked further to this with my administrator. I told him that I would like to have him to have a discussion with these people and ask them to keep their mouths shut. If not, I told him that I will be filing a grievance against them through the union. That grievance will include an investigation and potentially a cease and desist order that will cost them their jobs.
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Old 19th July 2017, 5:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O'Malley View Post
You have to be the one to watch boundaries and to step back from any situation that could lead to further gossip. Sometimes when you develop a bond with a particular student, you might be placing expectations on them that aren't fair to them or to your other students. Instead of one on ones, try to have another staff member around to verify, for any future record.
I had many discussions with athletes over the years about this very same issue. I didn't show any favoritism in this situation; I did the same thing I would do with any athlete that was hiding an injury.

Her lower back was getting more and more chewed up, she was lying to her folks and me about it. The heated discussion happened because I refused to allow her to practice or compete until she was cleared by a doctor. The meet before, her and I had agreed that she wasn't going to compete in long-jump as that was causing her a ton of pain. She did so anyway (I was running an event and couldn't keep tabs on her) and she could barely walk after.

I may be a math teacher but my first degree in in pre-physical therapy and I knew that she was risking a serious injury if she didn't knock it off.

And, I will no longer be working with her one-one.
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Old 26th July 2017, 5:39 PM   #13
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Update

My administrator wasn't thrilled initially when I told him that I would be filing a grievance if he didn't talk to the women involved. But, we talked about it for an hour or so and I let him know that I wasn't going to tolerate this kind of gossip. It is damaging to my career and my reputation and I don't appreciate them running their mouths.

He pulled them in individually and read them the riot act. He explained to them that they will be facing a union lawyer if they continue to spread rumors. One apologized to me afterwards and said that she didn't think before she opened her mouth. She told me that she had just heard random stuff and shouldn't have been repeating any of it.

The other one had a tantrum in his office and tried to blame the girl. She approached me and told me that I should be thanking her because she was just repeating what the girl had said which is absolutely ludicrous. I told her that was crap as she was talking to everyone BUT me about. I ended up cutting her off and telling her that I was done discussing it and told her she could explain her thought-process to my lawyer if I heard anything about it. That shut her up. For now.
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Old 26th July 2017, 6:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by OatsAndHall View Post
My administrator wasn't thrilled initially when I told him that I would be filing a grievance if he didn't talk to the women involved. But, we talked about it for an hour or so and I let him know that I wasn't going to tolerate this kind of gossip. It is damaging to my career and my reputation and I don't appreciate them running their mouths.

He pulled them in individually and read them the riot act. He explained to them that they will be facing a union lawyer if they continue to spread rumors. One apologized to me afterwards and said that she didn't think before she opened her mouth. She told me that she had just heard random stuff and shouldn't have been repeating any of it.

The other one had a tantrum in his office and tried to blame the girl. She approached me and told me that I should be thanking her because she was just repeating what the girl had said which is absolutely ludicrous. I told her that was crap as she was talking to everyone BUT me about. I ended up cutting her off and telling her that I was done discussing it and told her she could explain her thought-process to my lawyer if I heard anything about it. That shut her up. For now.
Damn straight. Bra-f*cking-vo! I'm sorry that you had to go to such a length, but wow, you handled all of that extremely well, imo. Even your rebuttal to the second woman was spot-on.
I'm also glad your administrator was cooperative, despite his initial attitude.

Last edited by bluefeather; 26th July 2017 at 6:16 PM..
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Old 26th July 2017, 7:22 PM   #15
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The thing about rumors is once they are out, they tend to spread.

In this situation I would have gone with the nuke option which would have showed you were open to exposing your (lack) of involvement and setting a precedent for the next gabby Gus.

Hopefully this will be the end of it, but I would have preferred to CYA to the max and crush those two women and anyone else who would thin to start some BS.

This reminds me of a girl when I was a teen who played a game of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" when she had a boyfriend. When she was found out she said I tried to rape her!

Once I caught wind of this I confronted the parties and told them I was going to the police and she could report my "attempted rape" to them. Needless to say she came clean after that.
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