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6 Tips To Handle People Who Stab You in the Back

6 Tips To Handle People Who Stab You in the Back

For the full original unedited article, visit Celestine’s blog, Personal Excellence.
Recently I learned that a “friend” stabbed me behind my back by badmouthing me in a pretty malicious way. It wasn’t just your innocuous, everyday gossip either—it consisted of pretty vindictive statements which cast doubt on my character and my integrity.

Tips To Handle People Who Stab You in the Back

    When I heard it, I was infuriated of course. What kind of “friend” speaks of friends like this behind their backs? How about the values of loyalty, trust, and respect for others? Have they been thrown out of the window in this time and age?

    However, as with every unpleasantry in life, I began to turn it around through the six steps below.

    #1 Cut this person away

    For me personally, there is no place for hypocrisy in my life. I had more than my fair share of hypocrisy when I was in primary school (a separate story for a separate day), which is why I decided that I’m done as far as unauthenticity and shadiness of character are concerned. Whenever I meet someone whom I feel is unauthentic, I would cut the person from my life because I have no wish to deal with misgivings, distrust, disloyalty, etc.

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    So I cut this person away. It was depressing enough to be backstabbed by someone whom I thought was a trusted comrade, much less learn about the depressing opinions this person had been harboring against me. I felt like I had been totally wrong in my judgment and the friendship was never what I thought it was; it was just an illusion in my mind. I felt I was infected by a virus in my soul and I needed to cut it away, pronto.

    If you have been backstabbed by a “friend”, evaluate (a) how important the friendship is to you and (b) whether the offending act is forgivable or not. If it’s a highly important friendship and if the offending act is something you can overlook, then air the grievance to that friend, trash things out, and give the friendship another go. If the friendship isn’t of much weight to you and the offending act is not something you can overlook, then perhaps cutting the person away is the best course of action.

    #2 Do damage control

    Then, I did damage control by rectifying the statements which had been made. I shared my side of the story to whoever they were aired to. While it was still up to the party to make his/her conclusion, at least I got to say my piece in this situation, rather than leave things hanging.

    If you have been backstabbed, take a step back and evaluate your situation. Has there been any “damage” done? Yes? No? If yes, what is this damage? Is it damage to your reputation? Damage in terms of potential business deals? Damage in terms of relationships? For the damage rendered, what can you do to reverse it? Address the damage as best as you can within your locus of control, and then…

    #3 …Let go

    One of my biggest qualms is that people might have bought into what the badmouther said and used those words to formulate their impressions of me, thereby making it impossible for me to ever form a true, authentic relationship with any of them. My life mission is to connect with everyone in the world, and to know that some people might have closed their hearts from me because of certain comments made by another is truly devastating.

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    Where damage control is concerned, I can rectify the statements made to people I knew the statements were aired to, but I don’t know if the statements were made to anyone else. These people might well have passed on the comments to people they know, of which the latter group might have done the same thing, thereby making it an irrevocable damage.

    To address this, I simply learned to… let go. Sometimes you can’t control everything, and the only way to be “in control” (read: staying calm and happy) is to be okay with not being in control. Rather than obsess about something I cannot effect, I would do better by letting that go and focusing on the things I can effect. (Read the next tip.)

    #4 Correct false perceptions through concrete actions

    Actions will always speak louder than words. I can explain my side of the story all I want but at the end of the day, it will simply be one person’s words against another. Who’s to say one is more right than another? Everyone always has his/her side of the story, and both parties will always be right in their own world.

    So, I decided to correct the false picture not through words, but actions. How? By ensuring my behavior is true to my five core values, something which I already strive to do every day.

    Recently I met an esteemed business investor and he told me, within our first few meetings, that he was very impressed by how I walk my talk, something which he doesn’t see often in other people, if at all. I thought it was a huge stamp of approval coming from him as he is already in his 60s, has set up and IPO-ed countless businesses, and has worked with countless people in the 40 over years he has spent in the business world.

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    His comment reminded me that as long as I do my thing and live true to my conscience, people will naturally know what I stand for as a person. You show people you are a good person not by saying you are one, but by taking actions consistent with what you define as being a good human being.

    At the end of the day even after you live true to yourself, people are still free to make their own conclusions. Some may choose the negative judgment despite everything you do. However, as long as you know your values and take actions consistent with those values, your actions will shine more brightly than whatever people try to say about you. Don’t serve to please others; live your life in the way you can be proud of.

    #5 Self-reflect

    I always believe there is something to learn from every situation. This incident is no different.

    From this episode, I learned quite a number of things about myself, surrounding my fears, my anxieties, and my treatment of friendships. I learned to be more appreciative of true friends who have always been there for me. I learned to be more sensitive to other people’s feelings. I also learned that I can be dead wrong in my judgment sometimes, and what I think is my intuition at work can just be a neurological dysfunction in my left brain.

    Above all, I learned to stick to my guns and stay true to what I stand for, instead of shirking myself out of fear of non-conformance with the world.

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    If you are serious about creating an impact, you are bound to ruffle some feathers here and there. Here’s what: ruffle those feathers anyway. Know that your job here in this world isn’t to please, but to stay true to your mission and create the largest, most positive impact to as many people as you can. Other people can put you down but you will always have your voice.

    #6 Look at the big picture

    While I was appalled when I found out about the “betrayal”, I got over it after a few hours. In light of the big picture of things, the incident was just totally insignificant. There are too many things I need to do, too many lives I need to get to, and too many goals I have to achieve, to be bogged down by one person’s petty vendetta.

    For example, we have a meteorite that just hit Russiainjuring over 1,000 people. Up north, we haveNorth Korea doing secret nuclear tests. Down south, kids in South Africa are dying every day due to famine and diseases. Then over in America, fundamental social issues beg looking into. The number of homeless people in New York City continues to rise every year. Schools in U.Scontinue to be plagued by shootings, now becoming an almost weekly occurrence.

    I reckon if you just found out that you got “betrayed”, you must feel pretty miffed. Shocked. Surprised. Angry. Livid. Feel those emotions, vent to your friends if you have to, then get over it. There are so many other things to concern yourself in life. Why let yourself be bothered by something as tiny as this?

    Rather than harp on the negative, why not divert your energy to the positive things in your life and build on them? What are your long-term goals? What are your short-term goals? What do you want to achieve this year/month? What are your Quadrant 2 items which you have been procrastinating on? How about getting started on them right this moment?

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    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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