Today I’d like to address the “stealth destroyers.” These are the people who seem nice, even cooperative, helpful and kind. But behind your back they’re tearing you down — blaming you for stuff you didn’t do, maligning your character, even trying to get you fired. Sometimes they even tear you down in person, but always masking it — in true passive-aggressive fashion — with humor.
Some people seem to be able to spot a stealth destroyer right off. Others (including me) take longer to suss out what’s actually happening.
Once you do realize what’s happening, it’s time to act. First, make a commitment to not getting sucked in by the charm anymore. Actions really do speak louder than words — no matter how nice this colleague may appear to be, you can never be sure that she’s not spreading rumors about you, criticizing your work, or trying to tear you down in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. That’s the bottom line.
As such, when you catch a stealth destroyer in the act, it’s important to call her out on it. Is she claiming a project went over budget because of a mistake you made, when in fact it was her fault? Send out a polite email detailing her “error.” Is she gossiping about someone else in the office? Firmly state that you’d rather she address that person directly. Do you now know that she’s complaining to the boss about something that you’re doing? Call for a meeting between the three of you.
Most stealth destroyers won’t cop to their actions, by the way. Instead they’ll give you a littany of excuses, justifications, and denials to cover their tracks. Don’t buy it — just hold firm, stay assertive, and refuse to get riled up.
Stealth destroyers can be extremely destructive, because their passive aggressive ways make them hard to catch. That’s why it’s essential to bring the light of day to any situation where you do catch them in the act.