By Diane Lazarowicz – Top Performance Results, LLC
While working with a client on leadership development, Susan realized her client needed more business consulting and analysis, which was not her specialty. Susan knew the right person to contact was Ray, a business consultant who had experience working with foreign companies. Though Susan knew he was the right person for the job, she was concerned about some ethical issues she had with him in the past.
As a business consultant, Ray had used other companies like Susan’s for leadership development and training. Susan did not want Ray to call in one of his other leadership development contacts to do the leadership training instead of her. So prior to bringing Ray in, Susan discussed her concerns with Ray and verbally agreed that any leadership training opportunities would go to her. So, despite the “red flags,” Susan brought Ray in to work with her client.
Overall, Ray did a wonderful job and assured Susan there would be plenty of future training needs for her within the company. One day, while speaking with the HR Manager, Susan learned that Ray would be leading a leadership training session with the Mangers. Upon reading the leadership training description, Susan realized Ray had betrayed her by taking her leadership training opportunity for himself.
Betrayal is a form of deceit so powerful one is often left devastated. Feelings of shock, disbelief, disappointment, hurt and anger quickly set in. Some even spiral into a state of depression.
So, why do people betray us? Based on research from almost two hundred businesswomen, they cited betrayal as having to do with power, ego, fear, jealousy, low self-esteem or lack of ethics. Others believe betrayal is the result of a competitive business culture that drives people to betray one another.
The betrayal stories shared by these women were all similar ranging from others stealing their work, ideas, money, jobs and even companies. Sadly, they felt betrayal is a very common practice in business affecting their ability to maintain healthy relationships and trust one another. Since trust is an important component of building relationships, this is having a negative effect in the workplace.
Many expressed being raised with strong values and integrity and were truly blindsided by their betrayer. Some discussed observing “red flags” that they chose to ignore, while others felt they should have and did not set appropriate boundaries within the relationship. Most felt there were lessons to be learned from the experience and vowed to handle things differently in the future. For example, those who had someone else take credit for their work pledged to get legally binding contracts in the future.
There were a variety of responses as to how they handled betrayal. Some confronted their betrayer; some sought revenge and others quietly left the situation. In addition, some resorted to legal action while others let karma and faith prevail.
Because betrayal is so prominent in the workplace, many seek guidance for how to deal with it. So here are “The Ten R’s for Handling Business Betrayal:”
- React: Actually, try not to react. Reacting in the moment is not the right option. Take time to calm down and understand how you are feeling and why you are feeling the way you do. Revenge may seem like a good idea at first, but it will not serve you well in the long run and can have a negative effect on you professionally. Remember that you are a person of integrity and should not compromise your values.
- Replay: Review the experience and give yourself time to deal with the feelings. Remember that you can only control your actions not the actions of others.
- Respond: Many women stated they confronted their betrayer by speaking with them, calling in someone of higher authority, or taking legal action. Responding is up to you. If you do speak to the betrayer, keep yourself calm and do not get disappointed if you do not get the results you expect. Consensus of most is that the relationship is likely not repairable.
- Review: Make this a teachable moment. Is there a lesson you should learn from this experience? Did you play a role in this betrayal? Were there any “red flags?” Were you too trusting? Should you have set boundaries? Did you need a written contract?
- Recover: What will you do differently to prevent this from happening again?
- Realize: Take a moment to think about the betrayer. Could they be dealing with internal or external struggles emotionally, financially or spiritually that led them to betraying you? You are not excusing their behavior but trying to be open-minded to the fact that they may be experiencing something you do not understand. When my children were little, each one had an experience with a bully. At night we would say a special prayer for the bully because they might be suffering from something difficult in their own life.
- Release: Forgiveness is powerful. Try to forgive the betrayer and, if need be, forgive yourself too. This is not to say you should let the betrayer back into your life again, simply let go of your anger and the negative feelings associated with the experience.
- Reclaim: Once you have forgiven, it is time to reclaim yourself by being open to trust again. Put the lessons you have learned into action to protect yourself from being betrayed again.
- Restore: Restore your faith in one another. Not everyone is out to hurt you. There are many out there who have your back.
- Receive: Allow yourself to receive the spiritual guidance necessary to move forward.
When it comes to betrayal, one thing is for sure . . . you can and should learn from the experience. Take the high road and turn that negative experience into a positive one. Look for the lessons that will help propel you forward for your own personal growth and development. If you perceive the experience as negative you will be stuck; if you perceive the experience as positive, you will be making strides toward becoming your best “you.”
Do you have your own thoughts on this topic? Please share them on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DianeLazarowiczCoach/
Diane Lazarowicz is an award-winning executive coach and communication and leadership expert who helps women trust their inner voice to achieve their goals through the delivery of strong communication and leadership. Diane has over thirty-five years of professional business experience and is a Suma Cum Laude graduate of Robert Morris University. As a life-learner, she is also a graduate of the Referral Institute and the Dale Carnegie Skills for Success program. In addition, Diane serves on the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Airport Chamber of Commerce and is Co-Chair of the Membership Committee. She is also a volunteer and advocate of the “Choices” youth program. TopPerformanceResults.com