Whenever a crisis happens at an organization, rumors begin. We shouldn’t be surprised because human beings are wired for curiosity. We want to know what happened, what’s going on, and what’s next. Channeled in the right direction, curiosity creates inventions, cures disease, and births great art. But channeled in the wrong direction, curiosity can destroy reputations, throw organizations into chaos, and undermine the common good. But there’s one way to stop unwanted speculation and rumor in it’s tracks:
Transparency. When a crisis happens, curiosity follows. People are going to wonder. Even the most loyal to the cause ask questions. When those questions surface, some in leadership ignore it, while others criticize those asking the questions. But that only causes the problem to fester and grow out of control.
Let me offer a better way: Without going into lurid detail, just tell the truth. After Jesus’ death and resurrection – and eventual ascension into heaven – the first thing Peter did was to explain to the disciples and friends what happened to Judas. In Acts chapter 1, Peter showed them carefully it was all a fulfillment of scripture. But he didn’t stop there. He reminded them that Judas was the man who guided those who arrested Jesus. Then he told them he had “Acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness” and then explained (in detail) how he committed suicide.
He didn’t mince words, or call it a personal failure or unspecified sin. Peter told the truth.
While the crisis is under investigation, be sensitive, because revealing unfounded or unproven information can permanently destroy people. But even then, don’t cover up what’s happening. And then when investigation ultimately reveals the truth – share it.
By getting in front of the crisis with the truth, you not only quash the questions, you give people hope that you’re moving forward, and there’s no reason to fear. When leaders and their organizations are transparent, there’s no place left for rumor.