The only way to handle a backstabbing co-worker

Office friends aren't always as forthcoming as we expect them to be. (Shutterstock)

If you love your job but have a co-worker who makes work life particularly miserable, try these tips to improve the situation.

Everyone has two personalities: your at home with friends and family personality, and the at work with colleagues and clients personality. And we’re always advised to keep these two worlds separate as your motivation and goals for participating in each are most likely very different.

If you’re one of the more aspirational working professionals, the most important advice you’ll ever receive is to always act professionally. Yes, even when your work best friend steals your ideas, discredits your contribution, downplays your hard work, rats you out to management, or blatantly starts a rumour about you, your reaction can’t be to scream, skel and make an angry spectacle. No!

Instead, you implement these tactics to defend, protect and recover your honour and reputation.

Count your words (and deeds)

Always be careful about what you say and to whom you say it to. Even if you do trust the person you’re talking to, you never know who is eavesdropping.

Backstabbers will use any piece of information to undermine your character to their advantage, even if they have to exaggerate and twist your words to do so.

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Keep your ears open too

It is only human nature to be interested in office gossip but it is its practical uses that you should focus on: a) you’ll know who the office gossipers are so you know where to get the 411, b) you’ll know the ins and outs of office politics and know which people to stay away from, and c) you’ll know what kind of behaviour is gossiped about so you’ll know what to not do at work.

With all that said, do not pass along any gossip - under no circumstances and not to anyone.

There’s only one way to react when backstabbed...

Approach the situation calmly.

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If you explode, you are only shooting yourself in the foot. Losing control and acting unprofessionally only feeds the gossip mill and gives the backstabber so much pleasure. They won’t even be fazed by what you’re saying at this point, they’ll revel in the way you’re saying it too much.

Don’t fight fire with fire

Rather, approach the person and say ‘Can we please talk? I’d like to sort out the animosity between us so that we can move forward and start focusing on being productive.’

If that doesn’t help, you have the right to approach HR and ask them to assist in mediating the situation. They’ll point you in the right direction as it’s important that every company knows how to deal with employee conflicts well.

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Always Remember: People aren’t necessarily against you, they’re for themselves and Mission: Backstab is their way of trying to convince others that they’re winning the ‘I am the better employee’ game. They just want what they want (promotion, an award, a new client, the next business trip, even a small pat on the back from the boss), and sometimes that affects you negatively.

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