Under the Bus

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Under the Bus

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We see it in action thriller movies and we hear it used metaphorically in the workplace, but one outcome most of us never want is the feeling of being thrown under the bus. That undesirable situation when a trusted peer, direct report, or boss completely breaks down any trust and respect by taking advantage of your relationship, placing blame, or otherwise sabotaging your job, career, or even personal relationships.


Do you have tire tracks on your back? If that trusted ally, partner, or confidant does the seemingly unforgivable you have at least three choices on how to respond:

  1. Confront them tactfully (think conversation not confrontation)
  2. Strategically manage future interactions (think situation management)
  3. Do nothing and prepare yourself for more tracks in the future

The proper choice may vary drastically from situation to situation, but most likely preparing to get more tracks is not the answer. It is unlikely that we will change other people, but we can change how we manage our interactions with them.

The first step should be to consider what led to the opportunity for their action or behavior, and how can you better manage future interactions? Bus throwers are opportunists and when they don’t see an easy opportunity they typically move on. Next we have to realize that it is not a one size fits all approach, every circumstance or situation is unique. Tactful conversation may help as well as being strategic (not tactical) when managing future interactions. People walk through open doors and opportunists seldom knock. Don’t leave open doors for the wrong people.

If you are picking yourself up at the curb, brush off those tracks, and think more strategically about how to better manage your future interactions. We may not always be able to remove difficult people in our lives, but we can change how we interact with them.


Photo Credit: Katie Hargrave

Dennis Gilbert is a national level corporate trainer, speaker, consultant, and coach. He is leading people, teams, and organizations to new levels of personal and professional growth. He latest book is: Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours!

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February 4, 2014at 10:28 am

Great blog and one I’ve been contemplating for awhile. For some people, they somehow feel that throwing others “under the bus” makes them a stronger person and more valued employee. Yet the opposite is true! Many times there’s quite a party going on under the bus! In my experience, situation management works best – confronting the “thrower” often adds fuel to the fire, so I can’t change that. But I can change how I control my own thoughts or actions – simply refuse to give them power!


    February 4, 2014at 10:40 pm

    Absolutely, sounds like you have a solution!

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