How to Fight Rumors and Backstabbing In the Workplace

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

Being the subject of rumors can damage not only your work performance, but also your personal life. However, no matter the size of your company, there are some officemates whose main business is to backstab their co-workers—maybe even their bosses.

Rumors are unjust, leaving you with barely a chance to fight back. This is because, oftentimes, you may be the last person to know about them. It is hard to deal with the issues because sometimes the story is altered as it is being passed from one person to another, making it more difficult for you to find the original source of the fabrication.

Here are some ways to handle office intrigues:

Ignore the rumor. If the issue is not really too damaging, just allow it to come and go. Let it die a natural death.

Try to be civil. If you found out who started the rumor, talk to the person, and explain your side and ask for his or her motive in making such statements. Do this in private, and remain composed and calm. This will send a signal that you are not afraid to confront him or her and that you may not be as forgiving next time.

Have friends in the office. You may always be the subject of intrigues if you have no allies. The backstabbers will be dissuaded from attacking you if they know you have friends who will fight for you.

Be helpful and nice. You will not be the object of intrigues, if everybody knows you are a kind person. People hate to see malicious attacks made on those they like.

Prove them wrong. If your officemates are attacking you for being the boss’ pet, show them that you deserve your promotion, because you worked hard. Focus on your work, and always do your best.

Inform your superior. Malicious intrigues may affect your performance. Inform your boss and ask for his or her help. Give your side of the issue, because keeping silent may lead him or her to think you are at fault.

Be able to present evidence. If you believe that the information circulated is baseless or untrue, be able to provide proof. The best form of defence is to back up your claims with hard evidence.

Don’t start it! Let us remember the persons who we will hurt. Not only are you damaging those people’s reputations, but also their future. If you plan to spread a rumor to get even, remember that you are just bringing yourself down to that person’s level.

In the end, although it is sad to say so, most companies tolerate office intrigues. Spreading rumors about a person gives the workplace amusement, fun and pleasure. Our best strategy is to plan a response proportionate to the attack; choosing our reaction carefully will help us win the war against this social virus.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


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