- Business and Employment
How to Deal With Backstabbing Coworkers
These days keeping yourself safe requires more than simply checking to make sure the door is locked before you go to sleep. Sadly, it's often necessary to keep up a defensive guard at the workplace as well. As an example, consider the case where a subordinate exhibits as much or more capability or productivity than the supervisor or other established "experts" in the establishment. Human nature being what it is, if this employee persists in outshining or in any way rankling the harmony of the establishment, he or she can become susceptible to harassment, ostracization, demotion, and possibly even dismissal. While talking things out is a much better way of sorting out differences, the outsider too often can become targeted. In this hub we'll look at a few things you can do if you find yourself, for the example reason cited above or any other reason, having to deal with backstabbers at work.First, let's paint a broad picture of difficult people in general. According to Bobbie Raynes, a consultant at Employee Testing and Development, Inc., "difficult" behaviors are typically attributable to low work interest and low self esteem. The expression of this difficult behavior in testing could be grouped into two categories. The first category consisted of aggressive behaviors, such as disagreeing, complaining, yelling, being sarcastic, and gossiping, to name a few. The second category consisted of passive behaviors, including indecisiveness, unresponsiveness, and simply agreeing with everyone all the time. This shows that difficult employees are apt to display multiple negative behaviors, not just one. The tests also did not reveal that people with low self esteem were correlated in the passive group or the aggressive group.So what can you do? Backstabbers are often familiar faces who are friendly in public. If they are successful, you may not even recognize them as such until the damage is done. Here are a few things you can do to shield yourself:Think before speaking. Pathological backstabbers are constantly trolling for information, secrets, dirt. They may initiate a conversation in which they seem to give out some personal information which may or may not be fabricated in order to get you to reciprocate as is common in friendly conversation. Remember, with backstabbers, anything you say can and will be held against you. Some warning signs are overly friendly smiles or gestures. Don't be paranoid, just be observant.Don't get involved, but don't disconnect either. Backstabbing is a habitual offense. Some do it primarily because they believe it will serve their purposes, some do it because pulling someone down makes them feel better (or, more accurately, less bad) about themselves, and for some it's simply become a part of their personality. While keeping your distance is certainly a good idea, the last person to know is usually the one being talked about. Keep your ear to the tracks.Backstabbers love to keep up appearances. If you want to confront the backstabber, do it in public with witnesses and, most importantly, stay in control emotionally. This way later the backstabber will be powerless to spread lies to the effect that you flew off the handle with wild accusations at him or her.Moving on is essential. Say the backstabber has really gotten you. You probably feel mad, frustrated, and vulnerable. If the backstabber has really done some damage, you could have some real setbacks in your career or reputation.Grieving is healthy. Of couse you don't want to- nobody wants to spend time in sadness. Try to avoid the knee-jerk reaction of saying "no big deal" when something has truly hurt you. Don't let these things get pent up in a bottle. Depending on the severity of what has happened, this may warrant anything from venting to a trusted friend to an all out cry. Alternatively, if some other healthy reaction helps you to get it out of your system, like running, swimming, or pounding a punching bag, go for it! You'll be glad you did afterwards.This last piece of advice comes from the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook by Glenn R. Schiraldi: "To forgive is to release resentment, hatred, bitterness and desires for revenge...We choose not to hate the offender, even though we hate what he or she did." When you forgive, you don't literally forget about the existence of the offense, and you don't have to ignore the fact that it did cause you pain and hurt. Forgiving doesn't mean you approve of the offense or allow it to happen again. You don't have to become friends with that person or trust them to show that you really forgive them. Trust is something that takes a long time to earn, not something given as a token of forgiveness. Remember this in case the backstabber tries to tell you the lie, "You obviously didn't forgive me because you don't trust me!" Very likely, the backstabber may someone it could never be possible to trust.Good Luck!