Someone is dragging your name through the mud.
Your response will depend on who is doing the talking and if your professional reputation is on the line.
Your children might report bad mouthing from your ex.
While your first reaction might be to respond in kind, doing so will unfairly draw your children into conflict and force them to take sides between the two people they love the most. Saying something like,
“some people talk badly about people when they are angry,
we don’t do that in our house,”
will show Junior that you can’t be baited, and that children don’t have to be involved in adult concerns. You can let it drop, or later calmly check out the situation with the ex, to first find out if what was said is true or out of context.
If you learn that people are talking about you at work,
Suzanne Lucas, the Evil HR Lady at MoneyWatch, suggests first a direct confrontation, then cover your behind. Lucas recommends a magical phrase she learned from Alison Greene at Ask a Manager: Can you clarify? As in,
“I heard you were telling people that I did or did not do X,
can you please clarify?”
You may get a denial, an answer that clears everything up, or no answer at all. Either way, Mr or Ms Coworker knows that you won’t be a doormat, and when s/he talks, it gets back to you. The second step is to approach your boss.
“As you know I just accomplished _____. Mr or Ms Coworker has expressed a concern that I did not do X correctly. What is your perspective?”
This will establish a precedent of dealing directly with workplace problems, and discourage Coworker from future gossip.
Dealing directly with bad mouthing will remove you from drama, increase your personal effectiveness, and improve life in the workplace, neighborhood and family.