Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Back Stabbing–Don’t Do It

If you succeed in life, you must do it in spite of the efforts of others to pull you down. There is no truth to the idea that people are willing to help those who help themselves. Only God is willing to do that. People are willing to help a man who can’t help himself, but as soon as a man is able to help himself, and does it, they join in making his life as uncomfortable as possible.

Edgar Watson Howe, 19th century writer

Edgar Howe’s cynical comment may be a bit excessive, but he may have been writing about personal experiences. If you’ve ever felt unfairly attacked, you can relate. If you’ve ever purposely tried to pull somebody down, maybe thinking about how it presents you to others will make you stop when you’re tempted to do it again.

Do you stab people in the back at work?

The one thing no one will admit to being is a back stabber. Probably most people don’t intend to be. Nevertheless, there is something in the human nature that is irked by the successes of those we don’t much care for–even the successes of those we do care for, if we consider them competition. We often show it by saying something to diminish the accomplishment or the character of the person involved. Or, we say something untrue or exaggerated to reduce someone’s influence or to create ill will on the part of others.

Honorable Statements Instead of Stabbing

Watch for that in your conversations and actions. If you’re expressing an honest critique and you have examples to back it up, say it if it needs to be said. If possible, make sure the person you’re talking about knows how you feel. If you’ve been asked for the truth and the issue is important, give your opinion and why you feel that way, then point out the perspectives others might have.

Otherwise, let your friends as well as those who aren’t friends be successful. Let others find out the truth about them–or not find out. Whatever you do, don’t say nice things to someone’s face then viciously stab them in the back when they turn around. Loyalty to friends and integrity about enemies are crucial for ethical behavior.

You may not be so saintly that you will push the agenda of someone who has treated you badly. However, you can refrain from creating problems for them, resisting their every effort and finding fault in all they do, just because they are the ones doing it. You may not be able to bring yourself to pat them on the back but you can refrain from stabbing them in it.

March 2nd, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work | 5 comments


  1. FIRST COMMENT!! The worst thing that ever happened to me at work was when I found out that the reason I didn’t get promoted was because of something a former coworker who I had gotten along with good I thought, said about me that wasn’t true. When I asked her why she did it all she could do was cry and say she was sorry.

    Comment by denisek | March 2, 2011

  2. Tina says: I knew about that situation, Denise and felt terrible about it for you. I’m glad the truth came out and that you had a second chance. I’m just sorry it all happened the way it did at the time. Keep the faith!

    Comment by TLR | March 2, 2011

  3. I thought that the comment made by denisek was very interesting, because I also once confronted someone who had caused problems for me in the workplace, and that person also cried, and didn’t want to discuss it. Then, that person kept trying to push her agenda, and ultimately it did make her look bad. It’s just really interesting to watch people’s behaviors and try to understand why they do what they do. It is a very good point that we should all be conscious of our own ethics and try to hold the line.

    Comment by Lisa M. | March 3, 2011

  4. Tina says: Thank you, Lisa M., for reading and commenting. I’m glad you talked directly to the person who caused you problems. I think the crying reaction is from embarassment, fear of what might happen next and the stress of having been caught doing wrong. It may also be that crying has gotten that person off the hook before!

    Comment by TLR | March 3, 2011

  5. Good article, Tina. This is a problem for me I think. If I hear something bad about someone I don’t jump in with something good to offset it, but if I hear something good, a lot of times I jump in with something bad to show the person isn’t so great. I guess I should follow the advice you gave in class and say “Stop” to myself!!

    Comment by P.B. | March 11, 2011

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