Situations aren’t always black and white when it comes to backstabbing coworkers. There are many shades of gray when you dig into the backstory of events.
Which makes me ask, are there times when we should give someone a second chance based on circumstances?
Or do we completely cut off someone after the first wound we find?
I know that some will disagree, but I believe there is some room for empathy.
Backstabbing Coworkers “What if’s…”
Today we are going to play a game called “what if?” We’re going to take a deeper look into the potential drivers and reasoning of people who backstab others. (Let’s just say for the sake of argument, we’re excluding sociopaths who don’t have a conscience.)
We’re going to assume these are generally good people, with good intentions. But may have perhaps fallen into a sticky situation. And now their only way out is to throw you under the bus.
What if… a close family member just died?
Grief makes people act in very strange ways (we all cope differently). So what if your backstabbing coworker just lost a parent, child, or even their spouse? Although the behavior is uncalled for, would you be able to accept they just weren’t in their right state of mind? Is this at least the one exception to the rule?
What if… they would be fired immediately? (And they are their family’s only source of income).
Let’s pretend Backstabbing McGee is on a “three strikes and you are out” program, and this incident would equate to strike three. Does knowing they’ve made other mistakes make this any less forgivable? And what if they were the head of the household and their family would be out on the streets if they are fired and miss rent? Would you be willing to take the blame?
What if… they just got bad medical news (diagnosed with cancer)?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be myself if I got a diagnosis of cancer and had to show up to work the next day. (Especially if it was potentially fatal). Even if they came back after a few weeks, and Coworker McBackstabby could be acting out due to this news. Would you be able to give them a one-off pass for stepping on your head to ensure at least ‘work’ was going well?
What if… their boss is a bully and would severely punish them for any slight infraction?
Ever hear of battered person syndrome? Well, guess what, it can happen in the workplace too. If they have a boss that is so verbally and mentally abusive, they will do anything to escape their wrath – is a backstabbing coworker really to blame? Or should the boss take the heat for the bad behavior? Either way, is it any less forgivable?
Backstabbing Coworkers – Having Empathy
Now if you are like some of the men I date in my youth (bless those poor souls!), you’d say their situation just doesn’t matter. The fact that they threw you under the bus should be enough for you to shun them for the rest of their natural-born lives. Or as Kevin O’Leary would say after a rejected deal in the Shark Tank “You’re dead to me!”
Which, I do believe this is sometimes appropriate for certain backstabbing coworkers. But, I also believe their decisions may be based on extenuating circumstances, and we need to take that into consideration too.
So you may want to potentially confront the situation (as mentioned in a past blog on handling the two-faced foe) in a very civil and manner (of course). Because wouldn’t you want someone to have empathy for you and cut you some slack if you just found out you needed a heart transplant?!
I by no means, am condoning the actions of the backstabbing coworker or trying to make excuses for them. I am trying to see the entire picture and decide if there’s a point of forgiveness. Because after all, you may still be stuck with working with them. For a long, long, loooooong time. And you’ll obviously have to figure out something to move forward and make it work.
On the other hand, there are times when you just need to cut toxic people out of your life. No matter if you work with them or not. Once or twice people may have made a bad mistake and let the coworker take one for the team. That said, once it becomes a pattern, there’s no empathy from me.
You get what you deserve. Sorry, not sorry!
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