DATA-e1411945066246First off, let me say that I have this great dislike for “anonymous” sources … people who speak on behalf of others under the cloak of anonymity, etc.

With that being said, allow me to recount an experience I once had …

Sitting in my office one day, my administrative assistant knocked and informed me that “Mr & Mrs ******” were here to see me.  I told her to have them come in where I greeted them, and asked them to have a seat.  They did and then asked if I would close my door for more privacy, so I did.

So, “Mr & Mrs *****, what can I do for you today?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “we are here because we want you to know a lot of people are unhappy with how things are going on here.”

“A lot you say.  How many would that be?  You see we have 3000 or so members here, so I would kinds like a number to help me assess the problem and solution.”

“Well, we don’t know for sure; we haven’t counted” the wife said, “but it’s a lot.”

“Since we have 3000 or so members, ‘a lot’ in my book might be 1000.  How does that sound?”

“Oh no, not that many!”

“500?  400?  300?  200? 100?  Am I getting close?  And, by the way, I would like the names of those people as well.”

“Well, me and the missus just know it is a lot.  But we won’t name the others.”

“So … once again … please give me your idea of a lot.  Or could it just be the 2 of you?  You and your wife?”

“I spose so ….”

“Now then,” I replied.  “It is the 2 of you who are troubled.  But why did you tell me ‘a lot of people’ were troubled?”  (There was no reply)  “Could it be that there are not a “lot of people’, but that you have told a “lot of people?”  (Again, no reply).

Sitting back in my chair, I thought for a moment and then said, “What would you think if I told ‘a lot of people’ that you had come in here today and I identified you by name?  Would you like to be implicated in that?”

“That would not seem fair,” he answered.

“Was it fair for you to do that to me, when you told others that ‘a lot of people’ were upset, when it was really only you?  Does that seem fair?”  (No reply)

With a sigh, I finally asked, “So what is troubling you so much that you would spread false gossip to others about me and then try to pass more onto me implicating ‘a lot of others’?”

Their response?  Just this: their names had been inadvertently omitted from those who had donated lilies for Easter … 5 years ago … 3 years before I had arrived.

There is more to this story … alleviating their hurt … and addressing gossip, etc … but that is for another day.