10 Ways to Deal with Two-Faced Backstabbers
Most people want to do good, but a few enjoy doing bad. If you’ve been thrown under the bus, you know what I mean.
Skillful backstabbers feign friendship, but they live on the fringes of social protocol.
The heart of a backstabber:
- A deep need to win might result in helping others fail.
- Unwillingness to acknowledge weakness might cause mask wearing and knife wielding.
- Refusing to admit mistakes or failures might end with throwing someone else under the bus.
- Inordinate desire for personal advancement might produce under-the-bus-throwing motivation.
10 Ways to Deal with Two-Faced Backstabbers
#1. Communicate quickly.
Backstabbers use delay as an opportunity to spread toxicity.
When something goes wrong, bring it up with forward-facing curiosity.
Address confusion as soon as you notice it.
Clarity eliminates opportunity for backstabbers to spread infection.
#2. Communicate publicly.
When decisions are made with the team, don’t allow someone to change the decision in private.
#3. Send follow-up emails. “I’m just following up on our recent conversation.
It’s my understanding that:
- We are working to achieve…
- My contribution is…
- Your contribution is…
- We’ll follow up on…”
#4. Include others. Avoid one-on-ones. Have two-on-ones.
#5. Speak with positive intention. What good are you working to achieve?
#6. Avoid defensiveness. Embrace your strengths.
#7. Control your own behavior and reputation. Don’t sabotage yourself by acting below your best.
#8. Don’t expect backstabbers to apologize or feel remorse.
Backstabbers enjoy throwing people under the bus. Any apology is meant to disarm you so they can twist the blade.
#9. Assign backstabbers to work with other backstabbers.
#10. Don’t try to convince higher-ups that a two-faced colleague is a backstabber.
Successful backstabbers know how to pull the wool over people’s eyes. The whole point of being two-faced is to curry favor with one person while stabbing another.
How might leaders deal with backstabbers?
How might leaders spot two-faced backstabbers?
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Dan…….You had me with the title. 🙂
Hopefully most of us aren’t really dealing with deliberate two-faced back stabbers, but the suggestions work just as well with those with intense personality or idea clashes: all in the name of work, of course. The suggestions are spot on.!
Keep ’em coming.
Thanks Mary Ellen. My experience is two faced backstabbers are in the minority.
However, sometimes they lay dormant until something happens where they choose to protect themselves.
Glad you see broader application.
It has taken me almost 4 years to realize I have a two-faced back stabber in my midst. On top of it all, she is quite brilliant. Thanks for the good read! I am trying to practice these suggestions but it is scary and difficult.
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One out of every 25 people is a sociopath, highly manipulative/usually charismatic (#10), incapable of genuine empathy but highly capable of faking it (#8) –
and they always tell you what they are doing (we just don’t believe them because it’s so “unbelievable!”);
and projecting their own abuses (trust me, not your lying eyes) onto you …
to provoke you into doing unto them before they do unto you,
so they become the victim (rather than be rightfully seen as the victimizer).
The truth in what one says is in what one does.
That’s how you spot them (the delta is usually glaring – That’s no small part of their joy).
Delete them, get them off the team, and make it publicly clear and quickly why their toxicity is not acceptable.
Do NOT allow them to team up (#9 is wrong, this will create enormous mischief and systemic damage). It’s very enticing to think bullies will beat up on one another – and they will, but only after the landscape has been annihilated.
All your points are helpful. Many thanks for highliting this pervasive problem.
Thanks Rurbane. I’m glad you have some ideas on this topic. Your passion comes through.
A couple years ago I read The Sociopath Next Door. It was eye opening.
It’s true that these people are hard to spot. Usually it’s too late when you realize the truth. You’re already under the bus.
Dan–many great suggestions. Dealing with difficult people isn’t easy, so the more tools we have, the more prepared we can be to take the right actions.
I believe this is the most important note from above: “#7. Control your own behavior and reputation. Don’t sabotage yourself by acting below your best.” Backstabbers inevitably are shown as such and while they may have short term successes in the long term (I’ve found) they just do not last.
Two faced back stabbing, lying, thieving,… opps. Yep had one of those. Completely destroyed my team before I could get ahead of it. 3 years latter that team has had 4 new leaders and still cant get back together 100%. I will never allow one person to destroy a team like that again. You must engage on the spot and be very aggressive and document document document, and Yes I am over it.
Good post! Lot’s of good advice. I really like the idea of not stooping to their low, that’s far too easy to do.
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 7:06 AM Leadership Freak wrote:
> Dan Rockwell posted: “Most people want to do good, but a few enjoy doing > bad. If you’ve been thrown under the bus, you know what I mean. Skillful > backstabbers feign friendship, but they live on the fringes of social > protocol. The heart of a backstabber: A deep n” >
I have worked in a cross section of industries and sectors. Backstabbers and cutthroat people can be found in just about any environment. It’s not fun finding out someone has stabbed you in the back. It also depends on the severity of the situation. In my case, it wasn’t too severe so I didn’t bother to worry about the circumstance. Face reality, life goes on. I’ve been the victim of backstabbers. I learned to chalk it up as an experience and learn from it.
Set clear High behavioral expectations up front. If their behavior brings the organization down it is your job as a leader to expel them. Mercy to the cruel Is cruelty and injustice for the innocent.
it would be interesting to learn more about #10 and why this is the case.
Using #10 Is what made my situation much better. I would say if you can’t go to the higher-ups for help, you have a much bigger problem.
Wow! I could have used this a few months ago. This person is now my boss. But I’m not so sure I agree with #10. I did that and things have gotten considerably better. If I hadn’t, probably would be in jail for murder by now 🙂
Let me add to that point…Often the higher ups are no better than the backstabber so they will never support you. They already know about the problem in that chair but don’t want to cause waves that would mean trouble for themselves. Either change roles, put up with it, or find a new organization to work for. You will never change that person or get rid of them.
Good evening Dan, The title of this topic was very appealing to me, as I have encountered many coworkers with this undesirable trait. The part at the beginning of the article that mentions that it seems as it is an enjoyment to them and most feign for friendship is spot on. I have worked with a John Doe for several years that still has to admit when he is wrong, which I can assure you he has been many times. Every time he is confronted about something there is always an excuse with someone else’s name attached to it. Numerous times, I have witnessed his satisfaction of throwing someone under the bus for his mistakes. Another trait I have noticed associated with backstabbing is glory hording. Taking credit for everyone else’s work and never giving credit to other team members. They are very quick to place blame on someone else and take credit for everything good. Advise I will take from this article to help deal with backstabbers in the future are; #4 including others and avoid one on one and #9 assigning backstabbers with backstabbers. This will help to avoid he said she said and allow the backstabbers to throw each other under the bus.