Back Stabbers

Dear Jean,

I have a question about trying to deal with people who try to stab you in the back at work.  It’s really hard to deal with back stabbers at work when I’m just trying to do my job.  These people were nice at first, and then I turned around and they were saying terrible things about me and sabotaging me.

Reply:

I hear this more than anything:  “What do I do about backstabbing and sabotage at work when I’m just trying to do my job?”  In her book Woman to Woman 2000, Dr. Judith Briles defines sabotage as “the erosion or destruction of your personal or professional credibility or reputation which can be administered intentionally or unintentionally through overt or covert methods.”  Briles also says that sabotage is not only common in the office, it is increasing at an alarming rate.  Often sabotage takes the form of backstabbing, and it can happen for a multitude of reasons.  The major reason is resentment.

The first thing to do is to find out if this person is out to get you because of a grudge.  Go to the person who is doing the back-stabbing and say, “Do you have a grudge against me?  Is it something I did?  Is there anything we can do to get onto equal ground?  I understand that you’re talking about me.  If there is anything I did to offend you, I need to know what it was, because I don’t want to offend you again.”

I know.  If it were this easy there would be a lot less hostility in the workplace.  But try it.  And then, try it again.  At least you’ll be keeping the channel of communication open.

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