Gossip, Backstabbing, and being an asshole

are all everyday things at work. I am guilty.

Participation in our own backstabbing is the result of our desire to be accepted and our reciprocal fear of being rejected by potential perpetrators and messengers when we confront them with what we believe or know to be true. – Jerry B. Harvey

A typical coaching question is: What part did you play in making that happen?

I HATE that question and feel that team building & leadership consultants and coaches who ask it should hang their heads and turn in their copy of Drucker’s Effective Executive

And as Harvey writes.

“How come every time I get stabbed in the back, my fingerprints are on the knife?”

Many people (and almost all managers) are the ones who are developing this loop of gossip and allowing it to continue.

When we knowingly accept and listen to other people talking badly and spreading gossip about others, that involves us in the backstabbing crime.

Gossip and Backstabbing are trouble as a team member and, even more, a problem as a manager. The person gossiping/complaining/bad-mouthing someone has authority and accountability as a manager. By listening and letting this go on, you accept and now are a part of the gossiping.

You are stabbing yourself in the back!

The opposite of stabbing yourself in the back – is being seen as a person worthy of back-patting and praise within the team. That sounds nice

Rumors, gossip, and backstabbing in the workplace – How to Avoid Stabbing Yourself in the Back

1. Confront the person by telling them you know what they are trying to do.
  • Just facing the person will let them know you do not want to be involved. Plus, it will send a strong message to the office that you are not one to come to with gossip.
  • Confronting them also removes some of their power to backstab you and the other person. By calling their behavior, once they try to backstab, the power of surprise is gone, and you can call them out publically for their acts.
2. Confronting others and carriers of the backstabbing/gossip about their role and the damage it may cause
  • When people come to managers to spread gossip, there is a request to keep it secret.
  • Suppose you explain when they tell you something damaging to the work and people on the team and expect you to keep it a secret. You cannot do anything to solve the problem, and if you cannot be a part of the solution, there is no reason to share it with me in the first place.
3. Confronting yourself and examining your role
  • What starts as having the best intentions and wanting to hear the other person out – quickly pulls you into Backstabbing and gossip.
  • When you find yourself regularly involved in workplace drama…sooner or later, you will also be a part of the drama – this is not where managers should be!
  • Choosing not to take part will put you on the outside, and you may not get to hear all the juicy stories and be a part of the ‘gossip circle, ’ and that may be a good thing because now you can get back to doing your work.

Unfortunately some teams and managers create environments where backstabbing, shit-talking, and gossiping are the norm. They do this, sometimes, with the best of intentions – and are guilty of hiding their eyes, ears and mouths from the reality they are seeing.

Now you can do something about it; when asked, “What part did you play in making that happen?” you can share what you did to stop the nonsense and move the team forward.