Backstabbing coworkerThe Backstabbing coworker.  He (She) is all smiles and chuckles to your face. The second you turn your back, though – wham! – you get hit. Sometimes it’s a bit of confidential information you’d shared with him that he let slip out at just the “right” time. Sometimes he goes behind your back and talks about you with the boss or coworkers. Sometimes it’s worse. It’s almost enough to make you go out and buy a kevlar vest.

The backstabbing coworker is almost always an individual who is exclusively self-focused. He has his own agenda, and he doesn’t care who he hurts to achieve his goal. The true backstabber is a rare, but particularly dangerous individual to have around. He can seriously damage your reputation and your career, so it is very important that you deal with him.

There are three things you must do:

1. Avoid him as much as possible. Don’t ever share any confidential information or share your opinions with him.

2. Confront him privately, and briefly. Don’t make a scene, don’t show anger, and don’t threaten. Simply look him in the eye and say, “Don’t ever do that again.” If he pleads innocence, as backstabbers often will, resist the temptation to become embroiled in a debate. Simply restate your position with “Don’t ever do that again.” You don’t want to up the ante by making a threat, but you do want to make it clear that you won’t tolerate his behavior.

3. Document the things he does. You never know when it might become useful.

Good luck!

[This is from the Archive Project – where we are attempting to get 10 years of Winning at Work on the web! Original publication date: 17 December, 2004]

Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group and has been consulting and speaking on customer experience, employee engagement and workplace performance for 23 years

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