Recently I learned that a good “friend” backstabbed me by badmouthing me and my family in a pretty malicious way. It wasn’t your innocuous, everyday gossip — it consisted of pretty vindictive statements which cast doubt on my character and my family relations.
When I heard it, I was deeply disappointed, of course. What kind of a “friend” speaks of friends like this behind their backs? How about the values of loyalty, trust, and respect for others? Have they been thrown out of the window in this time and age?
However, after feeling uneasy about it for a short while and realizing that this was simply ridiculous and a waste of my time, I began to turn this around and move on. If you’re dealing with a backstabber at the moment, I feel feel for you.
Sometimes rumors can balloon out of control as people add their own interpretations to events. Worse still, some people may make up stories to sow discord between you and others. Hence, you want to fact check the story first before jumping to conclusions.
For me, when a third party told me that my “friend” said certain bad things about me, I then asked for explicit information, like what exactly he said, the context he said it, and why he said it. I then asked for the third party’s permission to see the messages, and saw for myself the whole conversation thread, along with the backstabbing comments. It was clear beyond doubt that this was real, and the next step was how to deal with it.
The truth and damage control?
If you have been backstabbed, take a step back and evaluate your situation. Has there been any “damage” done? Yes? No? If yes, what is this damage? Is it damage to your reputation? Damage in terms of potential business deals? Damage in terms of friendships? For the damage caused, what can you do to reverse it? Address the damage as best as you can communicating to good people.
If the gossip is malicious and you are deliberately targeted individual, do understand that this is done with a covert purpose. Typically, there will be heavy attempt to cut you out from the network of people you trust and that can help you address the rumors. First your closest people like your family would be violated.
To share your side of the story might be difficult or next to impossible.
Clarify with the person if you can. If not, cut this person away
For this friend, this wasn’t the first time such an issue occurred. For the past few months, I had dealt with a variety of misunderstandings and issues with him. So when it came to this situation, especially the gravity of it (outright attacking my character in front of an acquaintance), I decided that it was time to cut off this relation.
So I cut him away. It wasn’t just this one incident, but the series of incidents that led up to this (a lot of negativity, angry outbursts), that made me realize that it was time to move on. The friendship was clearly not what I thought it was, and I had wasted too much time trying to make it work.
If you have been backstabbed by a “friend,” evaluate
(a) how important this friendship is to you and
(b) whether the offending act is forgivable.
If it’s a highly important friendship and the offending act is something you can overlook, then air the grievance to that friend, trash things out, listen from his/her side of the story, and give the friendship another go. If the friendship isn’t of much weight to you and the offending act is not something you can overlook, then perhaps cutting the person away is the best course of action.
One of my biggest qualms is that people might have bought into what the badmouther said and used those words to form their impressions of me, thereby making it impossible for me to ever form a true relationship with any of them.
My life mission is to connect with everyone in the world, and to know that some people might have closed their hearts from me because of comments made by another was truly devastating.
Where damage control is concerned, I can rectify the statements made to people I knew the statements were aired to, but I don’t know if the statements were made to anyone else. These people might well have passed on the comments to people they know, of which the latter group might have done the same thing, thereby making it an irrevocable damage.
To address this, I simply learned to… let go. Sometimes you can’t control everything, and the only way to be “in control” (= stay calm and happy) is to be okay with not being in control. Rather than obsess about something I cannot effect, I would do better by letting that go and focusing on the things I can effect.
Correct false perceptions through concrete actions
Actions will always speak louder than words. I can explain my side of the story all I want but at the end of the day, it is simply one person’s words against another. Who’s to say one is more right than another? Everyone always has his/her side of the story, and both parties will always be right in their own world.
So, I decided to correct the false picture not through words, but actions. How? By ensuring my behavior is true to my core values of Advancement, Love, and Truth, something that I already strive to do every day.
Recently I had an exchange with an esteemed business investor and he told me, within our first few meetings, that he was very impressed by how I walk my talk, something he doesn’t see often in other people, if at all. I thought it was a huge stamp of approval coming from him.
His comment reminded me that as long as I do my thing and live true to my conscience, people will naturally know what I stand for as a person. You show people you are a good person not by saying you are one or even putting down others, but by taking actions consistent with what you define as being a good human being.
At the end of the day after you live true to yourself, people are still free to make their own conclusions. Some may choose to negatively judge you despite everything you do. However, as long as you know your values and take actions consistent with them, your actions will shine more brightly than whatever people try to say about you. Don’t serve to please others; live your life in a way you can be proud of.
I always believe there is something to learn from every situation. This incident is no different.
From this episode, I learned quite a few things about myself and treatment of friendships. I learned to be more appreciative of true friends who have always been there for me. I learned to be more sensitive to others’ feelings. I also learned that I can be dead wrong in my judgment sometimes, and what I think is my intuition can just be a bad oversight.
Above all, I learned to stick to my guns and stay true to what I stand for, instead of shirking myself out of fear of non-conformance with the world.
If you are serious about creating an impact, you are bound to ruffle some feathers here and there. Here’s what: ruffle those feathers anyway. Know that your job here isn’t to please everyone, but to stay true to your mission and create the largest, most positive impact to as many people as you can. Other people can put you down but you will always have your voice.
I shared this Winston Churchill quote before in the take credit post, and I’m going to do it here again before it’s such a wonderful quote:
Look at the big picture
While I was appalled when I found out about the “betrayal,” I got over it after a few hours. In the big picture of things, the incident was just insignificant. There are too many things I need to do, too many goals I have to achieve, to be bogged down by one person’s vendetta.