Backbiting in the Workplace


Have you ever found out that someone has tried tattling on you to your boss?

Many people have. They feel betrayed and hurt. It can feel like an outright attack. What’s worse is you feel your employer is not getting the whole story. You just know that the story they’ve heard is very lop sided and puts you in a bad light. You imagine that they hear the story of how you are inadequate and not performing up to the high standards that are in place and they believe it.

The pitfall of this situation is when you decide to even the odds by going on the offensive.  You begin to point out the other person’s inadequacies to even the score, you know, just so the odds aren’t so uneven, and you just know it’s a good idea.  You aren’t a bad person, your boss needs to know that and if someone is guilty it’s the other person and not you, right?

Well your boss doesn’t see it that way. Your employer isn’t stupid. He doesn’t really look at the mistake as important. What he does see is how petty you are. When you try to even the score you seem catty and your leader sees it for what it is, childish.  When you are slinging mud you are losing ground.

I can spot a tattle tale a mile away. When someone brings me a problem I see it as “whatever this problem is they are bringing me is the extent of their problem solving ability.” The size of their problem reveals the size of them. I can instantly see the level of their emotional intelligence and people skills. When it comes to promotion time, ever employer remembers these little conversations.

Eagles get promoted over ducks. Your boss is always trying to uncover which one of their employees are ducks and which ones are eagles.  So YOU have to decide, do you want to be an eagle soaring above the crowd or a duck squabbling around on the ground with all the other ducks just causing a mess. Ask yourself when was the last time you were hit with eagle droppings? Probably never right? It’s because they soar high above the crowd. Most of the crap that leaders have to walk through comes from ducks squabbling on the ground.  When it comes to a promotion or an opportunity to play bigger role does your boss see you as a duck who will just be in a position to cause a bigger mess or someone who is bigger than most of the problems?

When you decide to begin your back biting campaign who are you really attacking? I’ve seen this many times, someone goes into their boss’s office with some red hot information and the boss defends the actions of that perpetrator. Why would this be? It’s because the person trying to point out a flaw in another person is really pointing out a flaw in their boss because he is the one ultimately responsible. They aren’t defending the perpetrator, they are defending themselves.  Quite frankly when this happens with me, I find it insulting.

“But my boss always listens to the ducks.”

As a good leader, that is part of his job. He has to entertain the complaints and look into them, no matter how ridiculous just to cover his behind. Trust me if the complaint is unmerited, he will remember who the real problem causer is.

Learn to keep your petty behavior to yourself.  When you solve a problem don’t run and tell your boss, “Hey look what I did.” That’s childish. I had a cat that would bring a dead mouse on the porch every time it caught one just so I would see he was doing a good job.  When you solve a problem, just document it, just in case you need it later.

Learn to review your documents every month and many times you will realize the problems you are documenting which seem so important, with time seems petty.  You will be so glad you didn’t bring it up to your employer.  Pick out the petty stuff and throw it away. Each time you do, you grow.  You expand your context.

In my personal opinion,I always chose to go over my boss’s head. I ask myself “Who does my boss report to?” After I answer it, I ask “and who does he report to?” then I ask it again and again. My answer is always the same….. God. That’s who I work for and I can talk to Him anytime and give him my side of the story.


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5 thoughts on “Backbiting in the Workplace

  1. Such a good point! I don’t know why, but it’s in almost all of our natures to want to “defend” ourselves, to make sure everyone knows “it’s not my fault”. But what matters most is not what happened, but how you dealt with it. And, it’s a great reminder that God is there for us to talk to, and as it says in Psalms 62:8 …pour out your heart before Him…

  2. Kerwyn Hodge says:

    The way you concluded really drives the point home. If we remember who we REALLY work for and bring our problems to Him, because he is always ready and willing to listen (Psalm 65:2), it reduces (and ultimately eliminates) the need to act in a catty manner. Of course, taking the problems to Him also require leaving the problems with Him. That’s sometimes an area where we fall short. We tend to take the problems back, in effect saying, “Father, I know you promised to help me in all my tribulations, but you’re [not acting fast enough/not able to deal with this issue]. So I’ll handle it myself.” That’s when the cattiness starts!

  3. Rajiv says:

    Backbiting is sinful, and a good leader knows how to separate the genuine feedback from disgruntled backbiting. He has to keep a level head for this

  4. macarisms says:

    Reblogged this on james four fifteen and commented:
    It’s worth thinking about how 1 Peter 2:18-21 by inform the wisdom of the attached post about how we behave in the workplace.

    Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

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