Organizational excellence – Importance of killing the backbiting

May 16, 2011 at 10:13 am | Posted in Blogroll, Organizational culture, Organizational Excellence, Practice Excellence | 3 Comments

Backbiting means to speak badly about another person without that person’s knowledge. According to some, backbiting normally occurs as a form of release after a confrontation. By insulting the opposing person, the backbiter diminishes them and, by doing so, restores their own self-esteem. Such gossip is common in human society as people seek to divert blame and establish their place in the power structure.

Another reason for backbiting is to get into the inner circle of powerful people because many of them encourage it to establish an intelligence network within the organization. I have come across many such cases where persons in high places cultivate and reward their juniors who are open to it. But it is a short-sighted strategy. Others who are whispered about behind their backs sense it and try to avoid any interaction with the backbiters. They also lose respect for the persons who encourage it.

If it continues unchecked, the greatest sufferer is the organization. The atmosphere is vitiated and gives rise to negative vibes; trust amongst peers and across various levels is seriously hampered. The solution is simple but requires discipline, sustained efforts and perseverance. It is impractical to assume that the persons who benefit by backbiting would want to do anything to discourage it. But those who understand the ill effects of this phenomenon need to start asking just two questions to anybody who backbites to them about another; “How does it affect you?” and “Have you talked to the person concerned?” The first question separates gossip from genuine grievance and the second gives a clear message that speaking about another in either case without his knowledge is not acceptable.

As more and more instances of such questioning happen in an organization, it starts building a structure which progressively reduces the freedom and immunity with which the participants of backbiting can operate, because all are interconnected one way or the other. Slowly but surely it becomes part of the organizational culture. Once that happens, it has a powerful effect not only on the existing employees but even on the new ones who join the organization.

I would really appreciate any thoughts / experiences from you that either support or challenge what is said above.



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  1. Nice piece of work about back biting. What measure can be taken to avoid such conflicts, as mentioned that it can be destructive and injected into organizational culture.

  2. Is there is positive side of back biting??? for both organization and employee

  3. Its mentioned about act of the authority, but What should a person do who is victim of back biting???

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