Why professionals backstab their colleagues

The top 5 career-killing moves that cause irreversible damage to your reputation.

Call it office gossip, politics or any other euphemism. Any time you ridicule, undermine or disparage a colleague to a third party, it's a move that can irrevocably damage your career.

If it's so destructive and unproductive, why do we do it?

"Because we don’t have the courage and fortitude to address the problem directly, or we feel it just won’t work out if we do," says Forbes' Kathy Caprino.

The practice is called triangulation and “it relieves our anxiety to share the problem, but it does nothing to resolve it,” she notes.

Backstabbing is just one of the moves Caprino says are "the most negative, damaging, and irreversible in your career and professional life."

None are surprising, for sure, but all are worth avoiding:

Making any move while upset

Will you sometimes feel enraged at work? Probably. Should you give in to it? Absolutely not.

"I’ve watched the inevitable destruction of losing control of your emotions and acting out rashly and impulsively from rage or despair," Caprino says. "If you act impulsively and rashly at work, you will likely lose much more than your self-respect."


Pretty obvious.

"The problem with lying is two-fold: 1) When you tell yourself you’re not capable of facing reality or dealing with the consequences, you make yourself right – you’ll grow less powerful, capable, bold, respectable, and trustworthy over time, and 2) the lies you tell must be perpetuated, which is exhausting and drains you from vital energy you need to reach your fullest potential," she says.

Announcing you're miserable

Even if you genuinely are unhappy in your job, don't announce such to your boss. Instead, figure out ways to learn new skills or find new responsibilities that will alleviate that feeling, however just.

"Explore every option available to you for becoming what you want to without walking out in anger and disgust," Caprino notes. "Your employer might very well be able to sponsor and support your growth and change, but it won’t happen if you stomp in and say 'I’m miserable and it’s your fault.' "

Burning bridges

It's so tempting but Caprino says the practice will come back and bite you.

"Every single one of your relationships is vitally important to you and your future, so craft them with care," she adds. "We need other people.  And these people are not just our former bosses – they are people who reported to you, teamed with you, shared coffee and drinks with you, took training sessions with you, got yelled at alongside of you, and weathered tough times with you."

via Forbes

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