Co-Worker Conundrum: Call Out Your Backstabbing Colleague

We here at The Grindstone are all about office harmony and positive thinking. We like open communication and calm problem resolution. But let’s all be honest, when a co-worker stabs you in the back, the proverbial gloves come off. You stop thinking about office peace and you start orchestrating your revenge. At least, that’s what you want to do.

One of our awesome Co-Worker Conundrum readers knows just what I’m talking about. “Laura,” who works for a large pharmaceutical company, recently had a little problem with her colleague. She wrote to us here at The Grindstone to ask for advice on how to handle her situation.

“My office mate and I have been having problems with another co-worker who is constantly late and doesn’t complete any of his work. We were tired of picking up the slack for him. So we agreed to talk to our boss together.

The problem occurred when we got into the meeting. Once it was evident that the boss wasn’t happy with our complaining, my office mate completely switched tactics and said that I was the only one with the problem and she was just tired of all the drama. It was a complete 180 and untrue. Now, I’m really angry but I just don’t know what to do.”

So, what’s a girl to do? You’ve upset your boss, the person you were complaining about and you’ve begun a feud with your past-ally. Talk about a rough day in the office. Here are some tips to get your office relationships back on the mend and restore a little civility to your office.

  • Call out your back-stabber. If you sit and fester over their betrayal, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. You might think that ignoring the issue will help everyone move past it. But their “save their own skin” maneuver deserves to be addressed. The best way to move on is to settle your differences. You need to do this quickly and privately.
  • Be polite, but firm. Obviously, this person was too insecure to have confidence in their message. That’s likely what made them buckle under pressure. You don’t need to bully them or rant about their behavior. But at the same time, you shouldn’t let a little sob story get in the way. Let them know that you don’t appreciate being thrown under the bus and that you’ll take it into consideration next time they want your support on an issue.
  • Gossip only makes it worse. When we get in an argument at work, our first instinct it to rally support from other corners of the company. In reality, the more you talk about the problem outside of the involved individuals, the worse that it gets. If you enlist your other co-workers in a big battle, all it does is make you look like you need defending.
  • The high road has a better view. Stick to your guns when you’re being sold out by a co-worker. If you devolve into a game of accusations and anger, it’s not going to help your reputation at all. Once you have stated your case, stand firm by your decision and let them feel uncomfortable and insecure.
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    • orion70

      I’d add to this, while it is sometimes important to have a paper trail, try to keep most things off e-mail.

      Sending an e-mail and CC’ing it to you, all managers and the head of the organization is not likely to get anyone anywhere.