A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 27, 2021 • Issue 21:09:02


Recovering from a double cross

In business, as in life, people sometimes betray one another. For most, this is a rare event with minimal impact. At times, however, an action can lead to major upheaval. When this happens, you can't undo the past, but you can swiftly mitigate damage and move one.

Reality check

First, don't do anything rash. Before dashing off an irate email or leaving an angry voicemail, gather facts. Find documentation of your agreements and correspondence. Get an absolutely clear picture of what occurred and when.

You see, it's possible you have received inaccurate information about what just happened, misunderstood a key communication or made incorrect assumptions. It's important to carefully evaluate the circumstances so you don't plan for an unnecessary confrontation.

If all the information you've received is accurate and you haven't misunderstood anything or made inaccurate assumptions, preliminary fact gathering will prepare you well for deciding what to do next.


Depending on the nature of the conflict, it might make sense to communicate directly with the offending party about what happened. It's possible the person who appears to have betrayed you has just made an inadvertent error and, upon learning of it, will rectify it immediately.

Since every situation is unique, differences in degree of harm done are vast. I am not a lawyer; I cannot offer advice on exact steps to take if the problem isn't due to a misunderstanding that can be sorted out rather painlessly. At this point, it's probably best to consult an attorney to guide your next steps, as well as to address weaknesses in contracts, other written documents, and the structure of your business to help you avoid similar situations in the future.

Emotional fallout

I can offer some thoughts on addressing emotional repercussions when a colleague or business partner has thrown you under the bus. I believe it's most important to realize it's close to impossible to get other people to change. What you can change is how you react to undesirable situations.

It's understandable if you need to vent your feelings. Pick someone who has the capacity to listen to you without judgment, will respect your privacy and keep what you say confidential, and will help you consider what actions to take but not force a particular solution on you. This sort of venting typically has a calming effect that leads to more clarity.

The future

If, indeed, it turns out you have been betrayed, don't draw negative conclusions about all potential business partners going forward. Do what you need to do to shore up your business, but don't separate yourself from others with draconian defensive measures. There is a workable medium between being naive and being cynical.

Learn what you can from the experience, and move on with a dose of optimism. Some extreme betrayals have caused people to lose their entire income stream. But this doesn't have to be a career-ending event. You can pick yourself up, set new goals and pursue them with enthusiasm. Your future depends on what you decide to do, not on what others do to get in your way. end of article

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