While working with a client on leadership development, Susan realized her client needed more business consulting and analysis, which was not her specialty. She knew the right person to contact was Ray, a business consultant; however, she was concerned about some ethical issues she had with him in the past.

As a business consultant, Ray had used other companies like Susan’s for leadership development and training. Susan did not want Ray to call in one of his other leadership development contacts to do the leadership training instead of her, so she discussed her concerns with him and verbally agreed that any leadership training opportunities would go to her. So, despite the red flags, Susan brought Ray in to work with her client.

Overall, Ray did a wonderful job and assured Susan there would be plenty of future training needs for her with that company. However, one day, while speaking with the HR manager, Susan learned that Ray would be leading a leadership training session with the mangers. Upon reading the training description, Susan realized Ray had betrayed her by taking her leadership training opportunity for himself.

Betrayal is a form of deceit so powerful one is often left devastated. So, why do people betray us? Betrayal may be due to power, ego, fear, jealously, low self-esteem or lack of ethics.

Sometimes it is the result of a competitive business culture. In a business culture, betrayal can include others stealing your work, ideas, money, jobs, and
even companies. Sadly, betrayal is common in business, affecting a person’s ability to maintain healthy relationships and trust others. Since trust is an important component of building relationships, this has a negative effect in the workplace.

Because betrayal is so prominent in the workplace, many seek guidance for how to deal with it, so here are the ten R’s for handling business betrayal:

  1. React: Actually, try not to react in the moment. Take time to calm down and understand how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Revenge may seem like a good idea at first, but it will not serve you well in the long run and can negatively affect you professionally. Remember that you are a person of integrity and should not compromise your values.
  2. Replay: Review the experience and give yourself time to deal with the feelings. Remember that you can only control your actions, not the actions of others.
  3. Respond: Many women confront their betrayer by speaking with them, calling in someone of higher authority, or taking legal action. Responding is up to you. If you do speak to the betrayer, stay calm, and do not be disappointed if you do not get the results you expect. Also, understand that the relationship is likely not repairable.
  4. Review: Make this a teachable moment. Can you learn a lesson from this experience? Did you play a role in this betrayal? Were there any red flags? Were you too trusting? Should you have set boundaries? Did you need a written contract?
  5. Recover: What will you do differently to prevent this from happening again?
  6. Realize: Take a moment to think about the betrayer. Could they be dealing with internal or external struggles emotionally, financially, or spiritually that led them to betraying you? You are not excusing their behavior, just being open to the fact that they may be experiencing something you do not know about. When my children were little, each one had an experience with a bully. At night we would say a special prayer for the bully because they might be suffering from something difficult in their own life.
  7. Release: Forgiveness is powerful. Try to forgive the betrayer and, if need be, forgive yourself too. This is not to say you should let the betrayer back into your life again; simply let go of your anger and the negative feelings associated with the experience.
  8. Reclaim: Once you have forgiven, it is time to reclaim yourself by being open to trust again. Put the lessons you have learned into action to protect yourself from being betrayed again.
  9. Restore: Restore your faith in one another. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Many people out there have your back.
  10. Receive: Allow yourself to receive the spiritual guidance necessary to move forward.

When it comes to betrayal, you can and should learn from the experience. Take the high road and turn that negative experience into a positive one by looking for the lessons that will help propel you forward for your own personal growth and development. If you perceive the experience as negative, you will be stuck. If you perceive the experience as positive, you will make strides toward becoming your best you.

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Diane Lazarowicz is an award-winning executive coach and communication and leadership expert who helps women trust their inner voice to achieve their goals through the delivery of strong communication and leadership. She has over thirty-five years of professional business experience. In addition, Lazarowicz serves on the board of directors for the Pittsburgh Airport Chamber of Commerce and is co-chair of the Membership Committee. She is also a volunteer and advocate of the Choices youth program. TopPerformanceResults.com