Backstabbing in a Company

A reader’s description of the situation:

I work in the capacity of Project manager. The other day I went to ask the Department manager when our team was taking part in the exhibition. The Department manager said we were not going to participate because there were no vacant exhibit spaces. I got upset and went to confirm the information with the Principal. I thought, we had been preparing, so was it in vain?! It appeared that nobody even called to inquire about our participation. I got annoyed and went to the Department manager and asked her: “Why are you being so mean to me?”

Department manager: “I didn’t do anything.”

Me: “How come? I have just asked you about our participation in the exhibition, and you said there weren’t any space for us. I went to the Principal and got to know that you hadn’t even called to inquire about it.”

Department manager: “So what? Have you got an exhibit space there?”

Me: “Yes! They have got a lot of vacant spaces!”

And the Department manager sniffed and got down to work again. I went back to my office. Well, how could I talk to her and find out why she is constantly screwing over me?”


It is obvious that the Project manager had a pending expectation of feedback from the Department manager. However, it is very important to articulate an intention in which the feedback can be provided.

When you said “Why are you being so mean to me?”, you might have had a subconscious intention to verbalize your interpretation of her actions as meanness. As it was your judgement, the Department manager naturally fenced off to it and raised defence. As a matter of fact, she didn’t even tell the lies when she said “I didn’t do anything.” She defended herself. As the accusations went on, she wasn’t able to reveal the reasons of her actions.  


Before providing feedback to somebody, you should understand the intention: why you are doing it. Ask yourself a simple question: What do you want to be happening?

If you just want to translate your feelings to a person — it is one story. If you really want to figure out the situation and understand the other person’s position and vision — it is another story.

In the first case, try to sort out what requirement of yours is not met in the current situation and if the department manager should know about it.

For example: you feel offended and upset because it is important to you to trust your colleagues, and it is important that your effort is respected. Should the department manager know about your unfulfilled need for trust and respect?

In the second case, use the Clean Feedback format and offer the department manager a chance and space to explain to you what her point of view was on what had happened.

You can start in this way.

Observation: You told me today that there was no exhibit space for us at the exhibition, and I asked the Principal about it. She said that nobody arranged our participation.

Interpretation: I thought you hadn’t called about the exhibit spaces in order to set me up.

Effect: This made me upset, because it is important to me to trust my colleagues.

Can you tell me what happened in this situation from your point of view?

If you have more examples of communication for us to analyse and give advice — send them to

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