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How To Handle The Office Backstabber

How To Handle The Office Backstabber

By Andre Jones

Most of us encounter many different types of co-workers throughout our careers. While some are more likable than others, most typically exhibit a fair amount of integrity. However, there’s that special co-worker that makes going to work a nightmare for many people – the office backstabber. Since most of us get stuck with at least one throughout our careers, exactly how do you deal with them?

Here are three suggestions that may help.

  • Keep your personal business out of the workplace

Part of the Miranda warning states, “Anything you say may be used against you.” Not only is this true in the event of an arrest, but it is just as true in the workplace. According to Business Insider, bringing personal problems into the office was the second biggest reason for termination. In 2009, Kimberley Bertrend of Canada was fired from her job due to being depressed. Bertrend, who was awarded almost $25,000 in a subsequent civil action against the company, said that one of her managers told colleagues that she “cried a lot” in talks leading up to her dismissal. Though this ended reasonably well for her, most of us will not get the same results, so play it safe and keep personal business under wraps.

  • Document EVERYTHING

Often when you are the target of a workplace backstabber – you know it. According to, a national 2008 survey found that 50 percent of marketing executives claimed that a former colleague had tried to make them look bad on the job. It can get worse if your backstabber is in a position of authority. You may encounter “special” attention, increased supervision or other actions designed to “make a case” for your dismissal. At this point you’re under attack and documentation is your best friend. Fortunately, in today’s workplace, it’s easier than ever to document your activities. Try to funnel your communication through emails whenever possible, this way you have documentation in the event that you have to fight for your job and/or seek legal counsel.

  • Prepare your exit strategy (but shut up about it!)

If you feel like your job is in jeopardy due to an office backstabber, you may just want to prepare an exit strategy. This includes updating your resume, networking, and upgrading your skills. It is also important that you continue working as if you’re not looking for other employment. This will give you a chance to secure references and leave on your own terms. News of your desire to leave could actually intensify workplace harassment and wind up in an ugly termination that won’t look good on your resume.

While this is hardly an exhaustive list, these are just a few pointers that should help you deal with the office backstabber in a way that doesn’t harm you.


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