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You're Nobody Until Somebody Hates You

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Ten tips to ward off backstabbers.

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Woody Allen had this great line in his play Central Park West. He said, "People don't hate you for your weaknesses, they hate you for your strengths."

How true. Whenever you start to break the rules, you'll feel extra anxiety being sent your way by jealous and scared co-workers -- especially during times of economic crisis and corporate culture change, when people feel scarcity and uncertainty the most.

I remember when I was an advertising creative director, whenever there was an in-agency competition to win the chance to work on a premiere account, there would be all kinds of sneaky, dishonest backstabbing. When I left the ad world, I used to joke that I was surprised I could still drink a glass of water without it spurting out the knife holes in my back.

Let's face it -- or rather let's two-face it -- some people just can't be trusted. With this in mind, here are 10 helpful backstabbing-protection gear tips:

1. Never wear your heart on your business shirt sleeve. Know that anything said "in private" can easily be taken public. In fact, backstabbers often try to gather personal secrets and controversial professional views -- so as to stock up undermining ammo. Saying less will protect you more.

2. If your firm is undergoing chaotic changes, keep an extra lookout in your rearview mirror. Desperation brings out latent backstabbing tendencies. A normally kind colleague might suddenly bend over backstabbing-wards to hold onto their job or receive necessary resources.

3. Those who walk softly and confidently can still carry a big knife. Translation: Supervisors can backstab as frequently as colleagues. Be on the alert. Your boss might be kissing up the ladder while attacking you down below.

4. Don't remove yourself from the grapevine. Become a fellow grape. If the backstabber knows you keep your ears and eyes open to office politics, they may think twice before stabbing you. Plus, to survive, it's admittedly helpful to make sure you're up-to-date on any and all useful info about reorganizations and layoffs. But make sure you don't repeat it. (Pssst! Gossip is okay to receive. But not to spread!)

5. Good deeds can actually help you go un-punished. If you become known for doing favors for people, you'll add to your "political capital" -- plus, create a more positive place to work.

6. Love thy neighbor -- and try to pick thy neighborhood. Okay, admittedly, you can't always pick who you work with, but whenever possible, try to surround yourself with the people you most trust.

7. Make sure your friends aren't only in those high places. Don't just work to create good relationships with your boss and colleagues, but also with secretaries and assistants.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

© Karen Salmansohn

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