How to Work with BACKSTABBERS

When you think about backstabbers, your first impression is probably to run as far away as possible and keep away from them. In fact, you can find in Bible several Proverbs that encourage you to steer clear of evil once you see it. 

The problem is, we are sometimes not aware of backstabbers until it’s too late. But other times we are and we tell our conscious selves that we’re not. In reality, we usually know who these people are. God let us know early in the game, as soon as we are exposed to this person. He tells us, “don’t trust her,” but we usually don’t listen. He gives us a feeling deep inside of our soul. He makes us aware of the words and comments of this person. But, we pretend we didn’t get it…until it’s too late.

Ladies, open your eyes and know that everyone isn’t going to like you and that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone likes pizza or fried chicken, and that’s OK. Yet, it was the hardest thing for me to understand.

Very early in my career, I noticed that some people would tend to gravitate towards me and others didn’t. I didn’t understand why, and it hurt. Then, one day, after whining about this with a good friend who was a lawyer and a judge, he told me “Fay, this is not a popularity contest. Leadership is about making decisions and doing what you need to do for the organization. There will be some people who like you and others who don’t.” So, I learned to deal with it and had to navigate through a lot of backstabbing and, yes, I survived it all. The stories are too numerous to share but they all taught me something about people and myself.

My candid words to you:

At work, know your environment. Understand the people that are around you, their needs and their goals. If you do this, you can foresee and predict the qualities and behaviors of backstabbers. Keep your career goals to yourself. Share only what’s necessary and keep away from TMI (Too Much Information). People at work don’t need to know all about your personal life. “Share with your eyes open.”

When you discover that someone is backstabbing other co-workers, be aware and keep your guard up. Don’t take it personally. Just know that if she did it to others, she will do it to you.

If you discover you are the victim of a backstabber, you will have a decision to make in dealing with the situation: “Do I confront the person?” or “Do I pretend I don’t know?”

Once you make up your mind, formulate a plan and take action.

If you decide to confront the person:

  • Speak from your own point of view, express your feelings and present the results of the damage (if there was any)
  • Once you’re ready to clean up, if you need to take responsibility for your own actions, do so.
  • Brace yourself and listen to how the “backstabber” defend her actions or not.
  • You may go back and forth but be careful not to keep opening the wound between yourself and the other person.
  • Get to the point of at least a verbal interpersonal agreement or contract.
  • Try not to bring it up again once the “contract or agreement” has been dealt with and “signed.” However, keep your guard up.
  • If she denies the allegations, accept the fact that she isn’t going to take responsibility for her actions.
  • Be prepared to agree, disagree, or even agree to disagree. Either way, hopefully, it will bring some form of closure.


If you decide to pretend not to know:

  • Formulate a plan to keep your emotions in check and to try not to develop an unproductive attitude towards the individual or the job.
  • Work with the person but don’t compromise your values.
  • Be very clear to yourself about where you are and where you want to go.
  • Be mindful of conversations with this person and her friends/connections.
  • Keep your work on point…always.
  • Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn to co-workers or management.

In conclusion: Believe it or not, a backstabber may believe her actions are totally justified. In many instances, they don’t believe they are backstabbing. They actually think their behavior and actions are justifiable in some form or fashion. Forget about others, my question to you, then is: What about you? Have you ever backstabbed yourself through self-doubt and self-sabotage? How many times do you bad mouth yourself? Keep in mind, you can move on from others, but can you move on from yourself and still be successful? Go back and reflect about it? Do you want to confront yourself and grow or do you want to continue pretending you don’t know? This is mindset work, you need to take the time and do it, for yourself. Keep your eyes on the prize and be open to grow through self-reflection and prayer.   Many times, we give ammunition to our backstabbers to hurt us. I know, it is difficult to swallow, but we need to stop this behavior, in order to move on and taste true success. In your journey, learn to be accountable to yourself, your choices and your own actions.

Fay Lawrence

She is a Leadership and HR Strategist, Author and Master Trainer.Fay has been providing human development solutions and change management for more than 20 years at the national and international level in English and Spanish.Fay works with Fortune 500 companies as well as with Non-Profits and Governmental Agencies.She is committed to be a support and guide for organizations who want to transform their culture and develop their leadership in order to be effective and relevant in today’s market.For more information, contact her at flawrence at globalprofilesgroup dot com or visit the website

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