Responding to Gossip

‘The Good Wife’ Campaigns

Political campaigns often follow a predictable path:

  1. Candidates announce that they will focus on positive ideas.
  2. Soon after, they bring out the attack ads.

figure the good wife alicia frankEven though political researchers advise negative campaigning, Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife, wants to avoid mudslinging. But she feels guarded when Frank Prady contacts her for a commitment to run a positive campaign; he asserts an agreement between two candidates is more solid than promises in the media.

figure the good wife alicia frankOne week later, Frank has broken his promise. Alicia challenges Frank and he pleads innocence, but then expresses reluctance to retract his message. Alicia’s response is classic, “Ah, are we not friends anymore, Frank?” Will Alicia stoop to his levels and allow her campaign manager to release the negative advertising? Does she have a choice?

Workplace Campaigns

Frank—not his real name—assigned me to support a computer application, that he had developed, for 500 users.

  1. I could not work with the application.
  2. He was too busy to help.
  3. He repeatedly declared that I was too stupid for the job.
  4. Months later, another developer demonstrated that the application was completely broken.
  5. Frank refused to acknowledge his mistake.

I might have easily repeated Alicia’s question, “Ah, are we not friends anymore, Frank?”

Frank continued to spread malicious gossip about me for more than a year, until he finally left the organization. At one point, a manager coached me to fight back by spreading factual gossip about Frank. I hated everything about that fight for my livelihood and am relieved that British Columbia has implemented Anti-Bullying Legislation. I’ll never know why Frank did what he did, but I am certain that neither of us won.

In Closing

This story happened a long time ago. I went on to celebrate many successes with that organization and I eventually left because I was ready to pursue my own interests. I hope that Frank is well.

Have you ever felt forced to respond to gossip? What happened? Would you change your response now?