Imagine you had a coworker that was the type of person that pretended they were the boss’ friend. Your coworker was super nice to the boss when she was around, but the minute her back was turned, your coworker turned into the most negative, anti-boss supporter you’ve ever met. Constant criticism, blatant disrespect and very unprofessional.
What do you do?
Backstabbing is one of the most undesirable traits that anyone can possess. Fortunately, we were given the ability to decipher what is right from wrong and the choice to backstab or not to backstab is an easy one for most of us. But what to do when you just observe it?
To start, do not entertain any conversation that will lead to badmouthing about your boss. Don’t agree, don’t nod your head, don’t mmm mmm, don’t smile. Guilt by association is very real, so you want to make sure that you just don’t tolerate this.
Perhaps you need to walk away in the middle of the sentence, with a clear message that says you will not participate in this conversation at all.
Maybe you need to vocally defend your boss (regardless if you agree or not with what your coworker is saying, it is the right thing to do), by saying something like “I like working with her” or “I don’t agree at all.”
If you really wanted to show your displeasure, say “Would you say this if she were here right now? Then why are you saying it now? It is unprofessional.” You can expect that conversation will stop in a hurry. You can also expect that subsequent conversation will be about you too (but at least you are aware of it!).
Running and telling the boss is a tactic I wouldn’t recommend. You could look like a tattletale and take the brunt of the attack as well. Racing to Human Resources would offer the same advice from me.
Deal with the unprofessional coworker. Deal with it quickly, without a smile, and with a very clear message that you will not participate.