Two-Faced: How to Deal with the Backstabbing Coworkers

An example of backstabbing coworkers.

An example of backstabbing coworkers. 

Have you ever been caught by surprise when a colleague you thought was kind and had your best interests at heart did something to sabotage you? Perhaps they lied or misrepresented what you did. Maybe they blamed you for a project that went wrong, but wasn’t your fault. At some point in time, most life sciences professionals have encountered backstabbing coworkers or the ones who “threw them under the bus.” How have you reacted to a situation like this in the past?   

Unfortunately, many careers and reputations can be tarnished by other colleagues in the workplace. Most professionals are very shocked when they find out a co-worker has done something unethical or malicious. As a result, they react emotionally and can create even more conflict and chaos at work. Emotional actions can lead to wild accusations, threats, and office gossip that is prevalent in toxic working environments. If you ever find yourself dealing with a two-faced colleague, follow these steps to preserve your job security.

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Ways to Deal with Backstabbing Coworkers

Keep calm

Once you discover that backstabbing coworkers are acting against you, intense feelings of anger, pressure, and sadness usually develop. Staying calm under these circumstances is much easier said than done. However, being levelheaded is exactly what you need to do. It’s possible that there could’ve been some misunderstanding and assumptions were made involving your past conduct. If this situation is very public and others are aware of the incident, you will be watched heavily and your responses could be scrutinized.    

Find out exactly what happened

Give yourself some time and space to find out exactly what happened. Most professionals learn that a colleague is trying to sabotage them from a third party. Until these details are confirmed, it is technically gossip or secondhand information. Thoroughly research the events that were told to you with an objective mind and see if you can get access to proof in the form of emails or other records. In some workplaces, it's common for people to talk about others who aren’t physically present, share confidential information, and say things that aren’t true. Your goal is to come to some sense of certainty before moving forward. 

Meet with your boss

Now that you’ve researched and evaluated the situation, you can decide if your company has backstabbing coworkers who are actually two-faced. If you think that there has been some misunderstanding and your colleague didn’t intend to degrade you, you can choose to let the whole situation go and not address it, or speak with them anyway. Try to schedule a one-on-one meeting with your boss, preferably in person. It is best not to discuss another co-worker with your manager around others. When you have your boss’ attention, tell them about the situation, what your colleague did, and the research you’ve done to confirm it. Wait to hear their initial response and see if they offer any suggestions for you. If your boss seems nonchalant or is silent you can ask, “How do you think we should handle this?”   

Talk to that co-worker

If your manager approves, it can be helpful to have a private conversation with a co-worker about an occurrence that could’ve potentially created a negative situation (to avoid one happening in the future). If you’re sure that your co-worker deliberately tried to damage your character, future, or reputation, having a talk with them can be something you strongly consider. You could ask them why they said what they did about you or took a specific action. During the conversation, really listen to what they’re saying. If you are still angry or upset about the event, it’s probably a good idea to delay this talk for a week or so.

Create a plan to protect yourself    

Every job requires a professional to perform well and achieve specific goals. Those aspects of a position can be put in jeopardy by two-faced backstabbing coworkers with their own agenda. If circumstances such as others lying about you and unjustly blaming you have happened in the workplace, you should definitely reflect on it. It is probably a good idea to watch everything you do and make sure it follows all rules and regulations. Keep records of your conversations and correspondence with co-workers to create a plan that protects yourself and your job.

Being around co-workers who present themselves as though they care about you, but then take action to sabotage you can be stressful and upsetting. This behavior is usually frequent in toxic environments. Once you find out about a colleague doing these types of things, remain calm and avoid any emotional outbursts. Do your own research to find out what happened and if things are really as they seem. Meet with your boss to discuss the behavior of your backstabbing coworkers and if your boss approves, have a conversation with the other people involved. Finally, think about forming a plan to prevent your reputation from being ruined.

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Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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