Can you recall Julius Caesar’s last words “Et tu Brutus?”
It’s devastating when someone so close betrays … but is a sour truth.
With great power, not just great responsibilities come, but conflicts & backstabbing also. And unfortunately, workplace sabotage, spreading rumours are now common.
From research by Domeyer’s Firm, almost one-third (31%) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed said ‘a colleague has tried to make them look bad on the job’.
Make you look bad, taking credit for your work, share your confidential information etc. could be specific signs for recognizing backstabbers. Backstabbers are definitely not aliens or different, they are just one of us with maybe some past bad experience or maybe some insecurity or possibly anything else. All we require to do is to figure out whether or not we actually are the victim and if yes then identifying that person with the help of the above-mentioned traits they follow.
And once recognised, you can outsmart them with your skills. Well, knowing how to handle backstabbing and navigating such situations smartly enough is not a kind of wisdom some of us are born with, neither do I. But yet, experiences and their end results do define your next step.
But, even though you have confronted such problems before, it stays bitter, and do affect your confidence if you let them. So, stay prepared, Right? And now here comes the doubt about how to handle or how to get yourself prepared against Backstabbers!
Below I have described certain possible manoeuvres that I hope can help in deciding how you can handle backstabbing at your workplace:
1. Your Thoughts – Your pocket:
It is always preferred not to share your opinions or thoughts related to any other employee or any organizational topic/ideas with a stranger and even if you are casually in friends with.
And if you doubt about the one you are talking to, strictly keep your cards close and let them be secrets. Because backstabbers are always tempted to get fuelled by such opinions and later on they will use them as gossip material or against you.
Here, in such situations, you are even required to stay aware, especially in your relaxed moments like lunch, events, hallway conversations, etc. Also, need not talk about the backstabber too, do not badmouth that person, and stay in your own shoe.
2. No Membership:
If you will subscribe for gossips, it’s obvious that you will receive notifications. This involvement leads to high chances of becoming the victim. So the best way to create distance with all such negativity or rumours is to have distance from the aura itself.
Do not join in, for any reason, anything, even if they ask
you for your opinion or if they are giving you any hint to respond or show interest. Remember standing/spending time with them and staying silent to their conversation is also not appreciable, so better to avoid their membership.
Stay silent when required, even if you have something to add on. But, if things are being directed towards you, and are creating a negative atmosphere; better to jump in and speak. In case of minor issues, you can talk to family or close friends and for support also.
3. Trust-worthy Network:
It’s always beneficial to have trustworthy and supportive co-workers around. You can talk to them about your experience or other interesting things. But you should be aware that you do not bring topics related to backstabber.
Be a good friend, enjoy yourself with your group. And if any problem arises do talk to them, let them be aware of what’s happening and consider their opinions. They are the ones who are going to stand for you and support you. Do the same for them as well if they need your help or support.
4. Analysing the Situation:
When entered into a situation where you realise being backstabbed, try to look at the situation from every angle, analyse the person and intention. Probably the person itself was not aware, so it’s advisable to select available actions wisely.
You can talk in private with that person or can heat the moment. But, showing temper, shouting, only makes you the part of the problem and not eases out the solution.
5. Vocal about it:
This becomes one of the major steps to be followed and that too smartly. Be vocal about your problems and if there is anything you find offensive, speak up. Situations can be anything either backbiting personnel are consistently trying to involve you or rumours are being spread about you, etc.
The first step is to tell them to stop and this can be done by talking in person; which is highly recommended at first despite creating a heated argument it’s feasible to maintain an even and professional tone.
Now this differs from person to person i.e. if you are an employee you can just have a private talk with the other person about what you felt from their action. Even if they are talking about another person you can just deny it by stating, “I do not want to talk about Shreya while she’s not here.”
But if you are a Manager, you can directly state in private about their behaviour and that it is unacceptable, so is required to be stopped soon otherwise it will have a negative effect
on their performance.
If Backstabbing reaches the level of harassment or persecution, it’s better to stop them immediately. And if it continues, inform HR and do-follow company protocols. Harassments are subject to legal issues and everyone should raise their voice against it.
6. Maintain the System:
If you are a Manager maintaining your office system is clearly your responsibility. Whether your employees are happy, is there anyone questioning their dignity? As a manager making sure that there will be no rumours, no backstabbing or unacceptable behaviour is not an easy task.
Managers can have certain favourable policies that can maintain ethics and discourage negative gossips and behaviour. Need not ban gossips or personal stories, just draw a line in gossips that do not hurt any employee. And if you find rules being broke you can take feasible actions and further can hold a meeting to revise and discuss the Company policies and standards you want them to uphold.
And as an employee, system maintenance means that if both parties cannot work out things or the situation escalates, you should inform your manager or HR to solve them.
In any case, you should stay strong and need not expose your softer side.
7. Intervention by Higher Authority:
It’s important to control things in the right way and if they become uncontrollable situations, confronting your boss is advisable. You can create an impression that you are actually not complaining, it’s a small matter, but since you need a cordial working atmosphere the issue should be resolved amicably.
8. Preparation for the game:
Preparations are always in favour if done wisely. From the very beginning stay alert, whether you see any sudden change or rumour about firing some. These are the crucial moments when others try to outsmart themselves or pull down others in order to protect their position.
Regardless of the backstabber’s sarcasm or tricks, you should ignore them. And make a habit of documenting whatever you do. Maintain a trail, records of decisions deadlines, etc.
Pre-inform your trustworthy colleagues about any issue you are going through or may occur.
Keep your ideas and plans to yourself, also if required you can even request your boss to divide responsibilities (if you are working on the same work with the backstabber) so that you get the credit for what you have put in. These will make it more difficult to steal your spotlight.
9. Time to Outsmart:
Don’t be naïve, and continue to outsmart them. Stay prepared and aware of what is going around. Need not be part of politics, even if you hear things directly or indirectly do not spread them.
You can try and stick to one-liners with the backstabber i.e. talk as little as much possible with them.
10. An employee of the year:
Focus on your work and try to become better at your profile, keep yourself busy with your own task, stay punctual and attentive. This helps in safeguarding from negative employees. Need not escalate minor issues, solve them on your own level.
But in any situation learn to be shrewd.
At last, I would like to quote Oscar Wilde “Forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them much.”
Although, one can not sure whether he/she going to succeed, but yet we can work on execution and proper application of ideas or decisions. We can not necessarily stop backstabbing from taking place but familiarizing with how to identify and handle backstabbers and also overcome all these is an important skill set to develop.
However, if you are not able to properly handle it and have planned to complain, and your authorities do not stand by you, do not blame yourself. You know you were right, and so move on, start searching for new opportunities.
You are talented and a valuable person for a company and probably that is the reason you have backstabbers. If a workplace cannot justify and instead affect your dignity, better to leave that place.
At the end of the day, do what you think is right. And to repeat … You are a lone wolf!