On Back-Stabbers

What is one sort of person you hate most? The one whose behaviour you find most unacceptable. Most people answer this question with the answer Back-stabbers, people who talk about me behind my back rather than to my face. But I have a few doubts here. I admit that I am an idiot in understanding human nature and ask very stupid questions. But still.


1) I do understand that people feel this about people who are very close friends and so are privy to very intimate information about your life. You trust someone with information and you expect them to keep the information to themselves and feel hurt and angry. So far so good. Ok! not so good, but I understand why it would get under your skin.


But why do people not understand that everybody is talking about everybody else and so it logically follows that somebody somewhere is talking about you? Why do people assume that somebody who says an enthusiastic “Hello Dear” should say only the best of best things when you are not around? People are going to say things like “He is too rude” or “She is sloppy” or “She has no sense of dressing” or something. So what?


2) When people say “I don’t care what the world says”, what do they actually mean?


3) Why do people say “Miss.ABC is a backstabber” to someone else when they should actually be telling Miss.ABC, “You are a backstabber”? Do they realise that they are backstabbers too?


4) Have you met non-backstabbers in your life. Do you think you are one?


5) I have sometimes asked people why they are giving me information about their friends and am often told that they trust my discretion. How can you break a friends trust in the name of trusting another friend?


6) Why do people consistently believe that women gossip (or Backstab) more than men do? Men are so forthcoming with juicy gossip about their closest friends.


5 thoughts on “On Back-Stabbers

  1. The people I hate the most are the ones who cannot keep their noses out of other people’s business. 🙂 The ones who want to come ostensibly to commiserate with you over your misfortune, but are gleefully storing up details so they can regale their cronies, along with a nice dollop of self-righteous condemnation of your choices that obviously – obviously! – were responsible for your said misfortune.

    As for the backstabbing variety – eh. I have a sort of filter for that. People talk about people. Let’s take that as given. When you meet mutual friends, talk will turn to other mutual friends. So comments like the ones you mentioned? I would be wary of those people because if they can say it about someone, they can say it about me, but ‘backstabbing’ is a loaded word to use for those. (We do tend to throw words around very casually these days – everything is ‘abuse’ for instance.)

    For me, a ‘backstabber’ would be a very close friend to whom I’d confided something in confidence, who then proceeded to make that public. Or someone who, knowing I was aiming for a post/a goal, did something that would a) ruin my chances at achieving that b) went head to head with me for it and c) both.

    ‘B’ has a caveat: if we are colleagues and we are both aiming for the same position independent of each other, then ‘backstabber’ doesn’t count – not unless said colleague does something underhanded to get an advantage.

    I am not one. While I’m pretty open about my life, I’m the fount of discretion when it comes to my friends. That has its own disadvantages. I get too many confidences, it’s tiring. 🙂 Thankfully, my friends, my real ones, are not backstabbers. The ones who are? I keep them at a safe distance. 🙂

    When people have to say ‘I don’t care what the world says’ – from my experience, be very careful. The charade is only skin deep, and I find that they care very very much what the world says. The ones who really don’t care? They just don’t. They don’t feel the need to proclaim it.

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  2. In my experience , lot of people who say that they prefer if people talk to their face , cannot take it when the said ‘talk’ is uncomplimentary. So may be we should say “talk to my face , but only the nice things” 🙂


  3. Anu: We do tend to throw words around very casually these days – everything is ‘abuse’ for instance Exactly. THAT is what I am talking about. Previously I used to think “Oh Poor thing, maybe she really trusted someone and they told REALLY bad things about her”. Now I just think “Yeah, Yeah. Backstabbing, that blanket term. Meh”.

    I made a few resolutions when I made this blog and one them is “Do not use links from other bloggers if it is to illustrate something negative. No body likes waking up to a trackback and realise that their blogpost was commented upon negatively. Do not what you’d not want done to you.” So I am not linking anything here but yesterday I read a post that was basically about a so called Backstabing incident that set me wondering about how sensitive people are when it is about innocous comments.

    I’m the fount of discretion when it comes to my friends. That has its own disadvantages. I get too many confidences, it’s tiring.
    Oh tell me about it. I am the fount of discretion even if the person is NOT a friend, and I find it extremely presumptuous that some people assume that I am interested in their perfectly boring secrets. 😦

    Srini: Yeah. Even more so when it is about supporting their dreams of being a next SPB or next Madhuri Dixit. We should not tell them nor anyone else that getting a day job is a safer option.


  4. Rahini, I didn’t mention non-friends, because the question of talking about them doesn’t crop up – well, not much, anyway. I seem to have this face and demeanour that makes people want to confide in me. I’ve had to feign sleep on my last trip to India to escape a woman who was hell-bent on making me the repository of her life story.

    We should not tell them nor anyone else that getting a day job is a safer option.
    Eh, I’m conflicted on that. Most people who want to be the next Madhuri Dikshit or the next SPB don’t have the talent for it. And the ones who do, I think while stomping on their dreams is cruel, it would behoove someone who cared to give them a whiff of reality – not all talented people get to go places. ‘Have Plan B’ is always good advice. (Apropos to that, my husband, who was MD’s senior in college by three years, says MD was practically nondescript in college (with a healthy crop of pimples, he says) – her eldest sister was the college beauty – and got booed at the college festival when she came up to sing, and everyone was surprised when she entered films. They were astounded when the makeover (Tezaab) happened – couldn’t believe it was the same girl. 🙂
    [My husband had a running feud with MD’s eldest sister (she was the College Arts Secretary and he was the acknowledged quizzer who won prizes for college), her brother was his classmate and friend, her second sister was my BIL’s classmate – and so on, and so forth.)


  5. Anu, Giving advice like “Have Plan B” etc is all great but there is an upper limit on the number of people who are going to be that kind to us. Say I go to a stage to sing a song and there is an audience of 10000 people and say I am not a singer to write home about. I should expect about 40 to 50 polite responses of “That was a great song choice, I love Illayaraja too” or “You wore a dress that suited you on stage” or “–insert polite uncomment of choice–“. Chances are that they are going to say something like “She just does not have range” or “She should have practiced a song that is easier for her” behind my back. Technically, It is true that they say something to my face and another behind my back. But if this is something I later come to know about, I should think “At least they had the curtesy to be polite about it to my face and they are probably right” rather than “But then they did not tell it my face and they are all two faced.” In fact, I should accept that most of the audience is going to be crappy and unkind about my song rendition behind my back if I am not a Lata Mangeshkar. If I have 3 honest friends who are both honest and not brutal about it, then I should count my lucky stars. I believe we have a duty to be as kind and as honest and as unjudegemental to others as possible but I don’t think we can demand it back as if it is our birthright.


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