How to Deal with Backstabbers at Work

The world of work can be fantastic or it can be a horrible nightmare where you just can’t seem to wake up. Sometimes that nightmare comes in the form of a co-worker who decides to conveniently throw you under the bus at a crucial moment. His or her main goal in life seems to be to find ways to make you look bad or get you fired. At some point in your career you’ll likely encounter this situation. Here are four tips for handling a workplace back stabber.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Identify your enemy

Pay attention to those who gossip and those who find ways to avoid doing any real work. Employees with a poor work ethic will do anything to get by. For some people, getting ahead at work is all about survival, and if you happen to be standing in their way you’ll suffer the consequences. One’s behavior will show you everything you need to know. Do your best to avoid a potential backstabber before there is even an opportunity to be taken advantage of. Remaining aware is key.

Don’t give away too much

Mean Girls

Source: Paramount Pictures

Be leery of co-workers who seem to be unusually interested in projects you’re working on and the details of how you are completing your assignments. He or she could be plotting ways to take credit for your ideas or even sabotage the outcome of one of your major projects. If your co-worker is not involved in your project and seems to be asking questions that have nothing to do with his or her work, be vague. You just never know what someone’s intentions are. Only give details to team members who need to know.

Don’t get comfortable

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Sure, you spend a great deal of time at work, but that doesn’t mean that everyone there has your best interests in mind. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite. If a team member perceives you as a threat (maybe you have more education or work experience), you could be a potential target. The important thing to remember is that your co-workers are not your friends. There are certainly exceptions, but for the most part, you have to watch out for yourself and not get too comfortable. That means that you should be very careful not to overshare details of your personal or work life that could be used against you.

A word of caution

Maleficent - Sleeping Beauty

Source: Disney

Unfortunately, sometimes your boss is the backstabber. He or she may have it in for you and this situation could unfold in several ways. For example, your supervisor could have you unknowingly train your replacement so that there’s someone to pick up the slack after you’re later fired for something petty. Another way this could play out: your boss gives you impossible assignments that you’ll never be able to finish on time. (If you do manage to complete the assignment, you’ll either get sick from the stress or the quality will be poor due to the short deadline or volume of work.) If you begin to see signs that your boss is preparing for your exit, it’s time to start looking for a new job.

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