We are less than 10 persons working in a small environment. My boss keeps telling us hoaxes he reads on Social Media all the time.

I have been digesting his nonsense for years but I hate to see people making fun of him behind his back. How do I convince him to stop?

Few points to consider:

  • In his culture it's very common to believe the nonsense that you HEAR from others. He is originally from the Arabian gulf region. I am not tho. We live and work in the UK.
  • He delivers a variety of hoaxes, stuff like:

    "if you enter your pin in reverse at the ATM police will attend"

    but the worse ones are the medical ones like:

    "you should eat pineapple because the spikes clean the holes in your lungs"

  • We are friends but he gets offended easily.
  • If I understand correctly - you're saying your boss believe those news he reads online, and spreads them among others, which is what makes other laugh at him? Also, are you friends? Or just regular-ish boss-employee relationship? – arieljannai Jun 3 '18 at 14:22
  • @arieljannai correct. – Ulkoma Jun 3 '18 at 14:40
  • 1
    Could you also update about the location and cultures that come into play? There's a lot of difference in work relationships, colleagues/employer relationships between different cultures. – arieljannai Jun 3 '18 at 14:46
  • Related: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/5315/59 – apaul Jun 4 '18 at 3:44
  • What is your overall goal here? If it is to help your friend/boss because others are laughing at them, I do not think that convincing them to stop is the best way to go about this... What do you hope to happen in regards to the larger, office dynamic and can you give us some more context as to what it might be like if you were to talk to your co-workers instead? – Jesse Jun 4 '18 at 6:02

I used to have this issue all of the time with elderly family members.

You can help him and yourself by empathizing and re-directing his curiosity to the right place, that would be an official/believable source.

"[blablabla] pin in reverse at the ATM police will attend"
That's interesting, one should always confirm that with the local department.

"[blablabla] eat pineapple because [yarayara] your lungs"
That's interesting, I'll call my physician to make sure.

If you already confirmed it's a hoax you can say something different.

"[blablabla] pin in reverse at the ATM police will attend"
Oh yeah, I got the same message and asked the local department, it's a hoax... can you believe the nonsense that circulates on the internet?.

"[blablabla] eat pineapple because [yarayara] your lungs"
Oh yeah, I got the same message and called my physician to make sure, turned out to be absolute bull... can you believe the nonsense that circulates on the internet?.

Eventually they understood on their own they were risking their credibility by uttering everything that arrives to them.

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I like J.A's answer and would like to add that you can also try indirect education by introducing your friend to credible sources. Send him interesting articles from well established news/journals/websites. Over time he will build a mental library of high quality resources.

If you want to take on the hoax problem directly, you could say something like, "My mother was telling me about this new XYZ... Unfortunately, when I looked on Snopes.com it turned out to be a hoax." (Cue sad face) If he doesn't bite, you can continue on about the hoax-blasting site of your preference and how cool it is. Maybe even show him a few examples of some popular misinformation. Take care not to make an example of something he has previously mentioned. This could insult him.

It is important to realize that while your friend might be extra trusting, we are living in a world where hoaxes can be incredibly convincing. Take this as an opportunity to teach him an incredibly useful life skill.

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You could just be honest without being brutal and bring it all back to work. You are, after all, at work and trying to be a productive company. To have a productive company, you need good leadership and if your boss is going off-topic with random hoaxes, this is hurting their leadership and the way that the employees view him.

One day, just before you leave or he leaves, you should mention that you are worried some of the topics he randomly brings up are actually hurting his credibility with the staff -- he is becoming more of a friend with bizarre ideas that don't make much sense instead of a boss that people see as their leader.

Come to him as a good person that is looking out for his best interest. You know that he is just trying to be helpful and spread some good information he read, but it might not be coming off the way he sees it. Let him know that some of the things he brings up are silly and don't make much sense and just come off as distracting as they don't pertain to the work you do. Let him know that you want people to look up to him as their leader, but when he does some of this stuff, it doesn't show the best leadership. You look up to him as a leader and want the other employees to do the same.

Hopefully you can play to his strengths and he will see you as someone that has his back and see's the greater goals of the company. If he thinks that his hoaxes are not silly, you could have a couple of his hoaxes in mind that have been clearly debunked to offer a different perspective.

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