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Protect Yourself from Backstabbers..
Human Resources » Employee Relations

Chrm Message From: siddharth Total Posts: 33 Join Date: 07/12/2006
Rank: Executive Post Date: 04/01/2007 01:21:44 Points: 165 Location: India

For many people, the backstabber is usually a familiar face: a colleague or an employee who acts like a friend in public but badmouths co-workers in private.

A backstabber may see a co-worker as a competitor for favour or promotion. In firms undergoing big changes, backstabbing may be one way people fight to hold onto their jobs or get needed resources.

Here, three experts in interpersonal communications and executive coaching offer tips on how to keep from becoming a victim:

Think before speaking
A firm wants its employees to co-operate with each other -- not open their hearts to others on the floor. Keep in mind that anything said "in confidence" could be passed on to others. Backstabbers look for information to use against people they see as threats to their career aspirations or power base, says Mildred Saunders, president of Milsaun & Co., a New York-based firm that coaches executives. The schemer, she adds, will try to get his or her "target" to share personal secrets or professional opinions that could undermine that person's position.

Watch for signs
No one wants to be paranoid. But if a colleague's smile seems a little forced, or if he or she acts excessively chummy, be careful.

Another clue: People who have backstabbed before are likely to do it again, so learn from past victims' experience.

Know that backstabbers line the corporate ladder
Gary Namie, author of The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job and leader, with his wife Ruth, of the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, has studied backstabbers, which he refers to as "two-headed snakes." He points out that supervisors backstab just as frequently as colleagues.

"They kiss up the ladder and attack down below," he says. "They tell you that you're wonderful while telling their boss that you are incompetent."

Even customers can be backstabbers, playing Dr. Jekyll with, say, a salesperson, and Mr. Hyde with his boss when discussing the employee's efforts on their behalf.

Ms. Saunders believes it's best to keep such people as far away as possible while still maintaining a professional demeanor. Backstabbers use emotional proximity as a means to hurt others. However, it's wise to stay alert to alliances that potential backstabbers may be forming. Savvy employees don't completely distance themselves from their colleagues, but rather keep their ears open for rumours.

Unfortunately, when stories circulate about someone in an organization, the subject is often the only person who hasn't heard them. One way to stop a schemer's actions is to know what's being said, which means being part of the grapevine. Not only will this increase the likelihood of hearing the stories, it may even discourage some potential backstabbers. Confront the guilty party

Step One: Enlist supporters. Ultimately, the only way to stop the backstabbing is to confront the perpetrator. Preparing in advance for a confrontation is essential. Dr. Namie advises that those who are uncomfortable confronting a person alone should check
to see whether others have had similar problems with that individual.

Step Two: Plan the approach. The goal is to get the backstabber to admit the truth. Start by saying: "If you have a problem with something I've done, we should talk about it and try to resolve it." "We need to work together. Here's what we can do to ensure no repetition of this situation . . ." "There's a way you and I can improve our work relationship. Are you interested in hearing about it?"

Step Three: Doing it publicly or privately. Andrew DuBrin, author of Winning Office Politics, advises handling the confrontation privately, or even bringing in a third party if necessary. Dr. Namie disagrees. Better to do it in public, he says, and bring the backstabber's actions into the light. "Snakes are obsessed with appearances," he says. Confront them in public. If the victim remains emotionally in control, the culprit will feel embarrassed enough to stop spreading lies.

Step Four: Keep the boss informed. A person who has learned that a colleague has badmouthed him to the boss should request a private meeting with that supervisor. The victim should never make it a personal issue between the backstabber and him. Rather, he should organize his defence and present it calmly, rationally and with the evidence in hand.

Dr. Namie isn't optimistic about the support one can expect from management. If the company's executives see backstabbers as sources of valuable information or value them for their performance, he says, they may ignore dirty politicking. That's why he believes it's up to the individual to take action.

And what if the backstabber is the boss? Dr. Namie suggests that the employee demand clarification regarding the specific procedures or results that his boss is after, and put on record the performance standards by which he will be evaluated. Clarity usually puts an end to the confusion -- and also to the backstabbing | Source - Harvard Business School Publishing

Warm Regards


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