A few weeks ago, I received an email from a shul rabbi, asking for advice on dealing with a particular type of congregant. The characterics of such a congregant are that (s)he is: influential in the community, known to be a baal chesed (generous person), and eager to spread complaints and gossip about the rabbi behind his back. The congregant doesn't complain to the rabbi, such that the rabbi could address the issues directly. So what can/should the rabbi do?
My advice was for the rabbi to ignore the gossip and be nice to such a congregant, for the following reasons:
1) You won't win a mudslinging fight, both because you know better and because you will be seen as defensive;
2) Trying to hunt down the
mudslinging will be frustrating and ineffective, and make you look unhealthily weak and insecure even if that is not reality;
3) People who see that you are good to him may come to recognize that his
comments are unfounded;
4) You see yourself as a baal chesed - it's one of the reasons you entered the rabbinate. Pursuing this with hostility will only make it hard for you to look at yourself in the mirror;
5) In time, being nice to this person will help you come to see him in a positive light, and his comments will bother you less.
I don't know that this is the best advice available, but it's what I can come up with. What would you advise?