Do You Work In An Office Full Of Backstabbers?
By Elana Centor on August 06, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
There are few personality types I find more fascinating in the workplace than the backstabber. Their ability to smile and act as if they have your best interests in mind while all the time they are either undermining your authority,subtly placing doubt about your competence,or out-and-out lying about situations,is truly breathtaking.How do they do it?
The thing about really good backstabbing is that it's so stealth. Even when your radar says the backstabber is up to no good, when you try to build a case against them,and start sharing your evidence out loud,you end up being the one who sounds trite,paranoid,or insecure.
Think about conversations you've had with friends who have been really upset about a backstabber. As a friend you listen to their story. You want to be supportive,but the whole time you're thinking,"this doesn't sound that bad."
That's the thing about backstabbing. When you try to describe the depth of the deception and damage it's having to your career, it often comes out sounding so sanitized that people begin thinking that you,not the backstabber,are the problem. It's a backstab boomerang.
Few things in the workplace are more frustrating than knowing in your gut that someone has it out for you and yet no one seems to believe you.So how do they do it?
Earlier this year,Wayne Hochwarter, a Professor of Management at Florida State University's College of Business,conducted a study to see how the recession is changing people's behavior in the workplace and in their personal lives.
Not surprisingly, the study,which included 300 married couples, shows that incivility at the workplace is on the uptick. According to the study people are reporting a 40% jump in "backstabbing,sucking up and politicking."
If you are to put any credence in a poll by Yahoo!HotJobs nearly 75% of people answered yes to the question, " Are you aware of a coworker trying to make you look bad or sabotage your work in the last year?"
Dr. Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute says there are specific types of backstabbing:
* Belittlers, who hurl put-downs, demeaning remarks and disparaging comments.
* Credit thieves, who steal your ideas and grab the glory when a project is successful.
* Finger pointers, who pin the blame on others when the project goes wrong.
* Rumor-mongers, stirring up drama by spreading lies and half-truths that destroy reputations.
* Slackers, who shirk responsibility and foist duties onto others.
* Scorched-earth managers, who will undermine or even fire a smart, capable worker when they feel threatened by brains and talent.
Marsha Petrie Sue,who wrote a book about Backstabbers at Work: Toxic People:decontaminate difficult people at work without using weapons or duct tape
and blogs about backstabbers says the worst mistake is letting the backstabber get away with their mischief.
If a Backstabber tells you that someone else in the office doesn’t like you or has it in for you, go to the person directly and ask if it’s true. The Backstabber has probably told the other person a similar story about you. These lies can be exposed when there is good communication in your workplace. And yes, it is your job to start the process of clarification. Don’t wait for it to improve on its own.
What if the backstabber is your boss? In an interview for Pink Magazine,
Nancy Morris an executive with Xerox suggests,
Performance is key if the saboteur is your boss. The trick is to get out from under her in a very positive way. Says Morris: "Go to her and say, 'Jill, it has been great working here and I have learned a lot, but it is time for me to move on. I would like to talk about opportunities in other areas, and I need your support.
What about the backstabbers in your work life? Did you ignore them, try to outmaneuver them,or did their behavior zap so much of your energy that you either quit your job or moved to another assignment?
Elana writes about business culture at FunnyBusiness