Have you ever had that sinking feeling after someone comes to you to secretly tell you what someone else said about you?
You feel trapped because you have “insider information” but you don’t feel the freedom to approach the person who is saying bad things about you because it would betray the one who gave you the inside information?
I call this the Power of Attorney Trap. It’s when “Kim” comes to you representing “Chris,” or when an employee comes to you with “what everyone else thinks. Believe it or not, this behavior happens even at the executive level!
When someone tells you what everyone else thinks your question is, “What do YOU think?”
You will find some back-peddling in the form of “I’m Ok with it,” or “I’m just trying to warn you,” or “Don’t tell them that I told you.”
This kind of undermining behavior will cause a lot of relationship drama. Make sure you don’t take the bait.
If the person isn’t in the room to represent themselves, stop the conversation and offer to invite the “other person” to the conversation.
This is tough love, and it is AWKWARD, but if you want to build trust in your organization have the courage to confront the issues instead of talking behind other people’s back.