In part one, we talked about why people talk behind other people’s backs. In this continuation, let’s examine how we can deal effectively with these unfortunate and troubling situations.
The first and best way to deal with this issue is to confront it head-on. If you feel you can safely approach the person who is talking behind your back, this may be your one chance to nip this in the bud and put an end to the foolishness.
Remember, you need to have positive proof that the person in question is spreading negativity about you by either witnessing it or having a trustworthy person come forward with the details.
Also, if you are in a supervisory position, you need to use extra due care. You really don’t want to come away with a complaint that reflects negatively on the company and/or yourself and you want to maintain harmony in the work environment.
As a manager, it is your duty to attempt to sort out and resolve any conflict in the workplace that hurts productivity. A person who talks negatively about other coworkers is, for lack of a better term, cancerous. One bad egg in a workplace can seriously spoil it!
Regardless of your status in the workplace, once you feel it is safe to approach this person, speak to them in a non-threatening manner. Express how you are concerned about what you are hearing and ask them straight-out, if it is true.
Then, throw them a serious curve-ball my letting them know the whole ordeal stems from possible miscommunication or a simple misunderstanding. Express to the person that you don’t appreciate the remarks and would love in the future to be able to hear the feedback directly so that you can effectively deal with whatever issue is at hand and make corrections if necessary. Whatever you do, do not show any weakness!
With this approach, you will have come off as a person beaming with class and dignity. At this point, the average person talking behind your back will probably have no choice but to tuck their head between their tail and scurry away embarrassed.
Sometimes, this is all it takes to be able to resolve your problem. Other times, the person will feel so embarrassed and humiliated that they will continue their behavior out of spite. Accept the fact that you cannot change that person and continue on with the tasks at hand. At that point, you have done everything in your power to handle the situation with class and it leaves you no recourse but to either:
a). Inform your supervisor with your concern that this person’s behavior is disrupting the productivity in the workplace, or
b). If your supervisor refuses to do anything about it, you can go over his or her head to the next level of supervision. If the company refuses to address your concern then you are left with no choice but to try to establish some allies at work by informing them of the situation and warning them about the person who is talking behind your back. You can also send an email from your own personal account to whomever you believe will take notice and take action. At this juncture, it’s important to start a paper trail!
The worst thing you can do is to allow a bully to see how negatively their actions are affecting you. Don’t call attention to yourself and play the victim. You need to come across as somebody who is strong and able-bodied to complete the work required and not someone who has been victimized.
Also, don’t be surprised if your boss is the one doing the bullying. This sort of scenario happens all the time and in these cases, you simply need to ask to speak with your boss and directly confront the problem.
If that doesn’t work, kindly inform your boss that if the matter is not addressed, you will go above their head to the next supervisor. At this point, don’t be afraid to put your words, once again, in writing in the form of a personal e-mail from your own non-job-related account or a letter addressed and CC’ed to everyone involved.