When I recently asked a group of attendees at a workshop if a coworker has ever backstabbed them, the overwhelming (almost 100 percent) was, Yes!
Backstabbing: betrayal (as by verbal attack against one not present) especially by a false friend….Merriam Webster
I’ll bet you would have raised your hand would if you were in the room when I asked the question too. It has probably happened, and it is likely to happen again. Someone you consider a friend has betrayed you. It’s a sad reality.
While I don’t know why this happens, I know what to do about it.
- Don’t take it personally. Even though it may feel like it, it shows more about them than you. For whatever reason, they feel they have something to gain by saying something negative about you. Perhaps they look more important or smarter. It isn’t necessarily about making you look bad; it is about making them look good.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
[ctt template=”3″ link=”CaLXv” via=”yes” ]Don’t take the actions of a backstabber personally. It isn’t about you; it is about them[/ctt]
True to the quote above, you rarely enter their thoughts at all. They are saying whatever they are saying because it helps them! They aren’t considering what it is doing to their reputation or your friendship. By taking it personally, you are assuming they did it to hurt you. You aren’t even on their radar. As much as that hurts, because how could a friend not know what it was doing to you, it isn’t about you at all.
- Pick Your Battles. It may be tempting to give your backstabber that stare that lasts a few seconds too long or to walk right up to them and say, “Game on!” But while it’s tempting, it’s not smart; don’t do it.
If you react emotionally (because you did take it personally; otherwise, you wouldn’t be upset), it is important to choose your battles. You may say something you regret and certainly something you can’t take back. You are stooping to their level by backstabbing your false friend, and you don’t need to do that.
That doesn’t mean you should always ignore when you are stabbed in the back. There may be times when having a one-on-one confrontation is exactly what you need to do. Be clear on what is overall harmful to your reputation and career. If it isn’t affecting your credibility at work, it might be best to look the other way.
I’ve decided that when people talk about how I spend my money, the state of my marriage, or my weight, I just ignore it. But when I hear that someone has said something about my professional abilities and integrity, I will confront them on those issues. My line in the sand is my professional reputation. If what has been said affects my professional reputation, I will confront them directly.
- Prove the backstabber was wrong. Correcting rumors requires action on your part. I don’t mean that you need to speak to every person and clarify what was wrong, but let your actions speak louder than any words. Show that the negative statements about you were wrong.
This is not your cue to fight back by betraying them back. That doesn’t prove them wrong at all; it confirms that you are just as bad a friend as they are.
“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
―George Bernard Shaw
[ctt template=”3″ link=”md2t6″ via=”yes” ]Be smarter than your backstabber[/ctt]
Be smarter than your backstabber. Be smart about how you respond to the situation. By looking at how you handle the situation, you are showing others that you have more integrity than many people do. Don’t respond like a child and go running to all your friends at work and complain about what is happening. If you do that, you are a backstabber as well.
It hurts to be stabbed in the back by someone we consider a friend at work. By dealing with the situation professionally and respectfully, you will show that you are a better person.