How to Deal With a Coworker That Throws You Under the Bus

How to Deal With a Coworker That Throws You Under the Bus
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Unwittingly, there are occasions when others make us the scapegoats. All they want is to keep their job. Therefore they say things that might offend us. The trouble is, they often succeed because we kept quiet.

One who throws you under the bus lacks trust in your abilities. You need to do more to warrant this person’s admiration. Be proactive if you witness someone throwing you under the bus. Don’t be shy; express your feelings about why you should be treated better. Never give them the satisfaction of getting away with it!

I’ll explain how to handle employees that badmouth you in this piece. Following these guidelines can help you avoid being the one to throw yourself under the bus.

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1. Confront the backstabbing coworker privately.

If you find yourself in a situation where someone has been dishing out criticism or blame, try taking a step back and asking yourself what you could’ve done better. You’re probably feeling pretty angry about the way things went down, but it doesn’t help anyone to lash out at the person directly responsible.

Instead, take some deep breaths and focus on the task at hand — whether that’s getting the job done or fixing whatever issue led up to the conflict. Then, try addressing the situation with your colleague privately rather than publicly.

This isn’t always possible, especially if you work in a big office, but if you can make sure there are no witnesses, it can go a long way toward diffusing the situation.

Finally, if you still need to confront the individual, remember that you shouldn’t necessarily come across as accusatory. Don’t say, “You threw me under a bus,” because that implies that you think the person intentionally tried to hurt you. Instead, keep the conversation focused on the specific issue and avoid broad, sweeping generalizations.

2. Take a Short Walk to Clear Your Mind.

Sometimes, just walking around for a few minutes will clear our heads. If you can do so while waiting for something to finish, grab it. It may not seem like much, but it can help you get control over your emotions.

Try to approach the problem head-on by considering all the positive aspects of your relationship with this person. They may have good reasons for saying what was said. Perhaps you did misspeak in a moment of anger and regret. Or maybe you misheard them.

Whatever the case, try to see things from their perspective. After all, you both have a lot riding on this project. You may even be working together again in the future. So, don’t let your emotions rule the day. Try to remain calm, cool, and collected. Remember: There’s more to life than work.

3. Acknowledge your fault.

While it sounds obvious, sometimes we forget that when dealing with people. When you realize you were part of the reason for a conflict, admit it. Even if you weren’t entirely to blame, you could still apologize.

The key is to be sincere. Saying something like, “I’m sorry I got upset,” won’t cut it. Make sure you mean it, too. The other person might not believe you, but you’ll know you apologized. And if they decide to forgive you, then great! Otherwise, it’s best to leave it alone.

Even though you didn’t cause the conflict, you deserve to hear an apology. Not only does it show that you care enough to acknowledge your role, but it also shows that you respect the other person enough to accept their apology.

Don’t wait until after the event to ask for forgiveness. Doing so makes you look weak and unconfident. Instead, say something like, “It’s OK if I made a mistake.” Then, listen closely to how the other person responds. They might want to explain why they think you’re at fault. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to give them another chance.

If they refuse to apologize, you should consider letting it go. Although it may sting a little bit, you’ve already acknowledged your share of responsibility, and now you should move on.

4. Don’t get defensive.

When you get angry, it’s easy to lash out at someone else. However, this is only sometimes the right thing to do. Sure, it feels good to vent, but if you’re going to respond angrily to someone, make sure you choose your words wisely.

For example, instead of saying, “You never tell me anything!” you could say something like, “I’d appreciate it if you would keep me informed about important decisions.” This demonstrates that you’re willing to take responsibility for the situation without being accusatory.

Another way to avoid lashing out is to remember that everyone has bad days. Sometimes, it’s easier to ignore certain issues rather than deal with them. As long as you don’t act rashly, there’s no need to feel guilty. Just focus on doing your job well.

Finally, if you want to defend yourself, you can use logic. For instance, if you think your coworker is undermining your authority, you could argue that you’re better qualified to lead the team.

If you feel that your coworker is making fun of you behind your back, you could point out that they are acting immaturely. Or, if you think they are trying to sabotage your projects, you could remind them of past events where they failed.

5. Remain calm and do not lose your temper.

If you’re feeling upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed, or even humiliated, take a step back and think about what you are doing. Don’t let emotions dictate how you behave.

If someone throws you under the bus, he thinks you deserve it. And there’s nothing wrong with him thinking that. He may be trying to save his job or avoid getting into trouble. But remember, you never know why people act the way they do. So don’t assume anything. Ask questions to find out what happened.

You might feel caught up in something, but you’re not. Think of yourself as a bystander observing events unfold. Reacting emotionally won’t help anyone. Instead, try to focus on the facts and figure out what needs to happen next.

6. Determine their issue with you.

Once you have calmed down, start by asking yourself: What did my coworker mean when he said, “you threw me under the bus?” Was he referring to one specific issue? Did he blame me for everything? If so, was it fair?

Next, think about what you can do to fix any problems. You could apologize for whatever it is you did wrong. You could suggest ways to improve communication between you two. Finally, ask your coworker if there’s anything you can do to change things around.

If you decide to approach your coworker directly, try keeping things simple. Start by expressing how you feel. Then explain that you understand why they acted the way they did. Finally, ask whether you can do anything to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

7. Appeal to HR.

If this behavior continues, and you’re still being mistreated, don’t just sit there and take it anymore. You’ve got to appeal to HR. This is where you let them know what’s been happening to you and why you feel you deserve better.

In addition to telling your manager what’s been happening, you’ll want to bring up any evidence that you might have regarding the situation. For example, you could show them emails and messages that prove that your coworker is harassing you.

You’ll also want to learn how to handle difficult coworkers. In our full article, we go over how to deal with various kinds of difficult bosses and coworkers. We even give tips on how to manage difficult employees.

8. Prevent it from happening again.

First things first: Pay attention to red flags. If someone seems overly concerned about protecting themselves, it could mean they are trying to cover up wrongdoing. Or there are signs that a coworker is planning to take advantage of your position to advance their career. Either way, it’s important to pay attention to warning signals like those.

Next, make sure you’re clear about your job description. Ask your manager to clarify your role within the team. Make sure everyone knows exactly how you contribute to the organization. This will help you understand whether you’re responsible for anything outside your scope.

Finally, consider taking some proactive measures. For example, you can ask your boss to assign you additional work duties. Or you can suggest ways you can improve your skillset. Both actions show you value your contribution to the team, and you’ll likely earn respect from others along the way.

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Throwing someone under the bus is never OK, no matter what context you try to put it in. If you have a coworker constantly doing this to you, it can be tough to know how to deal with the situation.

You don’t want to make waves and risk creating even more tension at work, but you also don’t want to take the abuse lying down.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to diffuse the situation and protect yourself from being thrown under the bus again in the future.

If none of these strategies work or your relationship with coworkers is completely toxic, it might be time to start looking for a new job. Our expert resume writers can help you create a document that will get you noticed by potential employers and help you land the perfect position where throwing people under the bus isn’t tolerated.

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