How To Navigate Betrayed Relationships At Work


Here it comes again, that feeling of being blindsided and betrayed by the same colleague at work.

How does one navigate that?


Stu thought that the committee had decided on the best course of action to recommend. He was positive they had.

And yet, what was recommended to the board?

Exactly the opposite of what the committee had discussed.

His blood began to boil, and his thoughts went in a million directions.

He rehashed all of the conversations, all of the pros and cons, all of the viewpoints, impacts and desired outcomes of the different options the committee had considered.

The option that was recommended to the board and approved by them had never became a viable one to the committee.

In the committee’s mind, expanding a newly-flourishing program into a physically unsafe, unwelcoming building was the least likely option to produce the desired and deserved outcome. It would doom the project’s long-term success before it even took root.

And yet, that scenario was exactly what was recommended to and approved by the board.

How infuriating.

So now, what to do?


Many of you may experience similar situations that leave you feeling betrayed or disappointed at work.

Perhaps you are sharing something in confidence and eventually it leaks out.

Someone else is recognized for the work you did.

You are overlooked for a position that you were led to believe was yours.

You are given the autonomy to develop a project only to be told afterward that, “No, you cannot do it your way, it needs to be done ‘our’ way.”

Any of these can leave you disenchanted, disheartened, and disillusioned.

You can feel angry, resentful, manipulated and insignificant (hear the silent scream and long sigh).


At some point you need to make a conscious choice as to how you will respond and proceed.


How can you navigate betrayed relationships at work?


If you prefer to not let the situation and/or the colleague get the best of you, here are a few tips that will help you remain true to yourself as you work through the situation.


Be consciously aware

Before taking any action, take some time to really see the situation for what it is.

  • How has this impacted you?
  • Why has this affected you so deeply?
  • Who are the players?
  • What motives might there be?
  • What benefits are reaped from this, and by whom?
  • What challenges are created or averted?
  • In the long run, what is the impact?

Basically, get your footing, find out as much as you can, recognize what aligns with you, and make your choices based on what is best for the highest good of all.


Honor your emotions

In every life situation you experience a kaleidoscope of emotions and this is no exception for sure. Depending on who exactly you are feeling betrayed by and in what ways you are feeling that betrayal, your own emotions can be intensely and profoundly impacted.

Do you like feeling angry, disappointed or resentful? Probably not. But if you do not honor those emotions, if you try to deny, trivialize, or block them, they will remain with you forever. And that is not doing anyone any good.

There is no better way to move through these emotions than to express them, whether to yourself, a loved one, the person who betrayed you, or anyone; just as long as you allow yourself to feel the emotions, be comfortable in feeling them for as long as need be and then let them go.


See the bigger picture

When you feel threatened, vulnerable or confused, it is often a natural instinct to whip out the old tunnel vision and hyper-focus in on certain aspects of the situation. This can be comforting in the moment, but it denies you the opportunity to influence any real, meaningful change.

By looking at the bigger picture, asking self-reflective questions and seeing the situation from different perspectives, you gain clarity of your strengths and inclinations in this situation and empower yourself to be an agent of change.


Step into action

What is done is done, but the next steps are still ready to be influenced.

How will you proceed from this point on?

What can you do to resolve the situation?

What can you do to repair the relationship or improve the outcome?

Just because someone else acted dishonestly or without integrity does not mean that you need to do the same. Rest into your heart- and mind- vibes and let them guide you in making your plan and claiming your choices. Then, get to making a difference!


Forgive all around

Yes, you heard that correctly, all around. This can be a toughy because forgiving is sometimes looked upon as ‘giving in’, dismissing an action or condoning one. But the act of forgiving is actually one of the most empowering, freeing deeds you can perform for yourself and others.

When you forgive someone for their actions or when you forgive yourself, say, if you were beating yourself up because you ‘should have seen this coming’ or ‘should have known’, you allow yourself the opportunity to let go of those heavy emotions of anger, resentment, disappointment and manipulation that might otherwise keep you weighted down.

You also shift your energy and intention away from blame and toward love. Which brings us to…


Love unconditionally

I know, I know, someone just betrayed you and it hurts on all kinds of levels! So how can you think of loving them? Remember, loving unconditionally is all about seeing others as fellow humans who are doing the best they can in any given moment on this journey we call life.

So yes, you love them. However, that does not mean you have to like them. You do not have to accept, condone, or approve of their actions. You do not have to want to be around them. You can love them and not like them at the same time. It can be a challenge, but in the end, it is worth it to be able to love unconditionally.

Employing some of these tips will help you navigate an emotional and uncomfortable situation with more grace, confidence and clarity.


So, what did Stu do?

After marinating (some might call it stewing, wink, wink) in the deluge of emotions and self-questioning for an evening, he woke up with a plan.

He spoke with some ‘people in-the-know’ to get a clearer, more accurate account of the recommendations and approval.

He considered why that recommendation might have been approved based upon the information the board had been given.

He knows there is some time before actual implementation, so he is reaching out to share the story of the committee’s passion and purpose behind their actual recommendations.

And now, he is ready to accept the approved plan, if it is to be, knowing the committee will do whatever they can to make it work, and knowing that he did all he could to advocate for his students.

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If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).