How to deal with a back-stabber

Say you’re talking to someone and, without provocation or good reason, that person said something insulting about a close friend of yours. What would you do?

  1. Tell your friend about it
  2. Keep mum
  3. Agree

If the person bad-mouthing your friend is someone you’ve been obsessing on since 1st grade, there’s a good chance you’ll pick 3. You pick 2 most probably when you’re deaf-mute or brain-dead. Otherwise, almost all of us would pick 1.

The question is this: should we?

“Of course! That person is bad-mouthing my friend. My friend has a right to know about it!”

True or False?

TRUE. Your friend has a right to know about any axe to grind anyone has about him/her.

But guess what? YOU don’t have a right to tell him/her about it.

“What??? OF COURSE I do! That person is my bestest friend!”

No, you don’t. Being the person’s best friend doesn’t give you the right to be his eyes/ears/mouth/whatever.

Weird? Not at all. When someone bad-mouths your friend and you tell your friend about it, what do you expect to accomplish? You want your friend to know, expecting him/her to be angry. In that alone you already have the intent to worsen the situation. What else do you think would happen? If we’re all lucky, your friend would keep quiet and just hold it as a passive grudge. He/she may never do something about it, but at the same time he/she would never talk to that person again. IF WE’RE LUCKY.

Chances are there will be a confrontation. Worse, it will come down Jerry-Springer style.

From bad to worse, yes?

But then, your friend does have a right to know if anyone’s talking ill about them. But should you be the one to be the avenue of revelation? NO. THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. This is between the back-stabber and the back-stabbee. Why do you think it’s so bad to back-stab? Having derogatory words flying out uncontrollably is just half of the evil. The other half is the back-stabber depriving your friend his/her right to be aware of something he/she should be aware of. It’s your friend’s business to know about this. It is not, however, your business to be the one to tell him/her.

Let me put it this way. When a person bad-mouths another, the transgression of back-stabbing is his/hers to answer to. But it is not your responsibility to make sure your friend knows about it. On the contrary, if you tell your friend about it, you’re answerable for the sin of being a gossiper (remember that gossip doesn’t necessarily mean false, it could also mean the conveyance of any bad thought or message for the purpose of promoting strife) and a trouble-maker. And also for sticking your nose into something where it doesn’t belong.

This is between the two of them. It’s none of your business.

You want to stick it out for your friend? Stand up to that back-stabber and say it to his/her face that he/she’s wrong. Tell him that your friend is way out of his/her league, and that he/she should stop being a gutless pansy and take it up with your friend personally. Let that person know who’s the lesser human being.

And then stop there.

Back-stabbers are powerless when we don’t play messengers.

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An incorrigible Gen-X cynic who writes too damn much