"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."-Matthew 5:43-45
Have you ever stopped and thought about the fact that work is called 'work' for a reason? I mean, it's not called, 'play' or 'fun'. It's called work because it is the place where you work! The fun place is attached to McDonald's, and is where you find children acting like children. However, the childish behavior doesn't always stay with children, or in the McDonald's play place. It can sometimes slip its way into the otherwise adult world known as the work place. And its usually smuggled in through the back door by a co-worker who never grew up and left the play place.
So how do you handle something like an immature co-worker who spends none of their time working, and all their time backstabbing others, gossiping, talking trash or doing anything else destructive? It's like this person is allergic to kindness and can't stand a day without drama, yet you have to deal with them. After all, you're too young for retirement yet but you're too far into your career to just quit now. So what can you do?
First: You must realize that the character flaw isn't yours.
This is important to understand because when we are the victim of gossip, backstabbing and the like, we often look to ourselves for blame. The thought is usually along the lines that if we can just find out what it is about ourselves that makes the other person dislike us so much, we could correct that flaw, thereby making them like us again. The problem with this is that it doesn't put the blame where it belongs. The person doing the backstabbing, or teasing is the one with the character flaw.
They usually involve themselves in this kind of mistreatment of others because they are uncomfortable with attention falling on them. Their mindset is that if they don't point out flaws in others, people will notice the flaws they have, and that is unacceptable. What they don't realize is that by always putting others down, they put the biggest spotlight on themselves. The worst thing you can be known as is not as someone who has an annoying laugh, or messy hair, or even a bad sense of humor. No, the worst thing you can be known for is being someone others can't trust. Someone who is alone, because you've pushed everyone away.
I want you to imagine that person who is doing the backstabbing as looking into a mirror. The mirror is representative of the rest of the world (you and others around you). However, rather than seeing other people for who you really are, what they see is the reflection of themselves in that mirror and trust me, they don't like what they see. That is why they feel they have to run others down. Because they don't like what they see in the mirror, they want others to view you like they view themselves. Doing so actually makes them feel better because for that moment people are not focusing their attention on the defects that is actually in the mirror-them!
Second: Leave the things that happen at work at work!
When I was a police officer in my rookie year, I wanted to be the very best police officer that ever walked through the door at my first agency. I went overboard and almost ruined my home life. That is because I allowed myself to never have a day off. It's funny that it's called a day off, because you're supposed to take the day off from the stresses of work, and re-charge your batteries. That is the reason why employers give them in the first place, because they understand that they are needed in order to have employees who perform at their very peek levels. However, we sometimes allow ourselves to be so wrapped up with work, that the job literally takes over our lives. I forgot that I was a husband, son and brother. I allowed the perceived needs of the department come before the actual needs of my family by working 30+ hours overtime in a pay period.
But you know what happened when I started cutting back on the overtime? The walls of the police department stayed standing, the other officers didn't die, reports were still finished on time, and the crime rate didn't skyrocket. However, I did start sleeping better and my home life improved. Because I got my priorities in line at work, it improved my home life. I was no longer glued to the phone in case work called, and my days off were more refreshing.
I know, you don't think that it's that bad with you yet. Let me ask you, when you get home from work does your mind still worry about what happened throughout the day? Does what that person said still bother you hours after you supposedly unwind? When you're on your day off, are you always waiting by the phone in case work calls? Do you spend your down time getting caught up on projects, or planning the following week? Do you dread the next day at work because you'll have to face the backstabber? If you answered 'yes' to any of these, you may need to re-evaluate what takes priority.
You have to remember that work is where you go to earn a living, not where you go to live. Did you catch that? You do not live at work, you go to work to support your life. There's a big difference. Being able to recognize the difference will help keep criticism from others in perspective when it happens. If work itself doesn't define you then neither will the opinions of a sarcastic backstabbing coworker.
Third: Look for opportunities to follow a perfect example.
What is the ultimate act of betrayal that you could think of? Have you ever had someone you trusted steal something from you? What about breaking their promise? Have you ever had a significant other leave you for someone else? All of these would seem like pretty serious offenses of betrayal, yet I can still think of one far worse.
How about one of your closest, most trusted friends literally selling you out to people who want nothing more than to kill you? Not only does he give you up for money, but he leads them directly to you so that they can kidnap you? And during your trial, the friend who said he would defend you to the death denies knowing you not once, not twice, but three times. Wouldn't that be a serious betrayal? The people I'm referring to is obviously Jesus and his apostles, Judas and Peter. Jesus was betrayed by two of his closest friends, to be kidnapped and ultimately put to death all alone. I can think of no worse act of betrayal or backstabbing than that done by the apostles to Jesus. However, being perfect as Jesus was, He found opportunity even in these repugnant acts.
The fact is, Jesus was able to turn acts of betrayal into acts that ultimately served Gods purpose. Judas, though he betrayed Jesus, served Gods purpose by initiating the act that shed perfect blood. It is this blood that now makes atonement for our acts of betrayal against God in our many sins. Through Peter's denial, which Jesus predicted beforehand, taught Peter to fully trust in Gods word. Like many lessons in life, it was learned the hard way. Yet it was a lesson that Peter was able to utilize to be the leader of early Christians that God needed him to be.
So what about you? Are you able to find some positive aspect in an act of betrayal? I suppose it would depend purely on the individual circumstance, however, we know of at least one positive aspect of every troubling time- it builds patience. James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Do you find pleasure in the fact that you are going through a hard time at work? No, that would be ridiculous, and that's not what James is saying. What he is saying is turn those hard times into something positive that you can learn and gain from. Doing so will grow your patience. Don't hold on to hard feelings, whether they be directed toward other people, or at situations themselves. Doing so does nothing to change the person, or the event. It only changes you because it makes you bitter.
Hurt feelings only make you bitter, never better. Think about it, God, who is far wiser than us doesn't hold on to hurt feelings. He forgives our shortcomings time and time again (1 John 1:9), and He wants us to forgive others also. In fact, we cannot expect forgiveness of our sins if we cannot forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:15). When we realize the motivating factor behind someone's negative actions is usually to cover their own personality flaws, suddenly the sting of emotions is not as severe. Remember to keep your priorities in perspective. You work to live, not live to work. Jesus set the example for us in dealing with all things, including dealing with hurt caused by others. Look for a positive in all negative, but be warned: it may take you a minute to find it. So while you look for it, go ahead and offer the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).