How to Identify a Backstabbing Employee

Backstabbers whisper to avoid getting caught.

Backstabbers whisper to avoid getting caught.

Work is hard enough without someone going behind your back and gossiping about you. Worse yet, a backstabbing employee can damage your reputation or undermine your authority as a manager. She can negatively affect job productivity and office morale. Backstabbing is dishonest and just another way of bullying; it's the coward's way of hurting another person. If she were honest, she would be talking to your face. Take note of certain clues that can indicate you have a backstabbing employee on your hands.

Pay attention to office personnel behavior. When you catch a backstabber in the act, she stops talking to the person she was engaged with when you get near. The bold backstabber will look you in the face and smile when you've caught her out in the middle of twisting someone's ear.

Note conversations in which people are whispering. Backstabbers are notorious for whispering. She doesn't want to be caught talking behind your back, so she'll whisper so no one can overhear her. Not all whisperers are backstabbers, but most backstabbers prefer to whisper their lies.

Look out for the person that flatters you excessively. To make up for her bad behavior, or to provide a cover, the backstabbing bi-atch often goes out of her way to flatter you and puff you up. She might even ask for advice.

Listen to how an employee talks about other people. A backstabber has a typical MO – if she cuts down or belittles a person who is not present, a former company or manager, chances are she will do the same to you when you are not present.

Observe the person who spends a lot of time talking to others and flitting from desk to desk. The backstabber is someone who is well-versed in company gossip and makes no bones about it. If you have a person that spends a lot of time gossiping, you've more than likely identified your backstabber.

Watch for signs of reduced productivity or low office morale. When you have a backstabber boring into the minds of others at work, she affects their productivity. She can also affect their morale because they might believe the negative things she is saying. When workplace morale is low and there are no other causes, it might be time to unearth the backstabber.

Tip

  • After you've identified the backstabber, it might be wise to have a conversation with her and call her out for her behavior. While you will never keep people from gossiping, a backstabber has a negative impact on the workplace and it's best to deal with it immediately.

Warning

  • When you confront a backstabber, she will more than likely lie about her behavior. Ensure that you are correct about her before you confront her.
 

About the Author

As a native Californian, artist, businessperson, contractor, journalist and published author, Laurie Reeves began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. In 2003, she and her husband moved into the home she designed, they built and decorated. Reeves graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.

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