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Betrayal In Business- How to handle Uncomfortable Situations.

Sep 21, 2004

We have all had those uncomfortable moments. Someone takes our idea and calls it their own, someone promises something and doesn’t deliver, and someone tries to make us look bad or blame us for their own shortcomings. How do you handle these tough situations? How do you confront the individual whom you feel has wronged you?

Here are some war stories from our subscribers. Let’s see how they handled betrayal by others:


“I was in partnership with two personal trainers who were selling products and giving diet advice at our training studio when I was not there. I found out when a client asked for the product. I told him we didn’t sell anything like that, he assured me we did and told me where the trainers kept it. On another occasion a diabetic client had a hypoglycemic episode while working out. I had helped her plan an appropriate diet with snacks pre and post exercise. While helping her recover from the episode she admitted that she was only losing two pounds a week on the plan I gave her and when she expressed her frustration to the trainer he gave her a plan that only provided salads, chicken, fish, and diet jello. She was following his advice but made no adjustment to her oral meds nor did she tell her doctor what she was doing. I confronted the trainers and explained why I could not be associated with them and ended the partnership.”–Deb Indorato, RD LDN
Approach Nutrition and Fitness, Chesapeake, VA.

Often, it is best to end this type of relationship where you could ultimately become liable for someone else’s negligence.
“A few years ago there was a woman up here on the mountain who was a ‘holistic health practitioner’ and massage therapist. I first became aware of her from the RD at the small, local hospital, who herself became aware of this woman when all the RN’s started coming to her because of their chronic diarrhea. What she learned they all had in common was this ‘HHP’, who felt that everyone needed their colon cleaned out…

I had a client who had been going to her for years for massages. As I started to work with this woman, she used to recommend that I contact this woman so we could work together. Not likely… She then felt we needed to meet. I won’t go into it except to say that meeting this woman in person convinced me that, in time, she would weed herself out.

But, the reason I bring this up is that, because of the client we had in common, I was also given inside scoop on what this woman was saying about ME! She spent a couple years telling her clients (MY client, included) that I was losing clients and so on. Although I steamed, I knew her day would come.”

It did and she’s gone now. I’m still here…-Margie Geiser, RD, NSCA-CPT, MEG Fitness
Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Life Coach, Running Springs, CA

States Marilyn Jess, RD, ATM, SpeakUpRD!, North Bennington, VT, “What goes around returns and that unethical people are weeded out. , even if they aren’t they tend to pay a price in their personal life and/or health so I prefer to move in another direction.”

In addition, Marilyn points out, “I think it is important to not only be aware that not all health professionals adhere to a code of ethics but more importantly what we do in response. As the recent doings in corporate America have taught us, dishonesty in business gets headlines and also results in prison terms and hefty monetary judgments awarded to plaintiffs.

Lauren Swann, Concept Nutrition, Inc., Bensalem, PA has dealt with what she feels is more than her fair share of people who haven’t played by the rules while expecting her to do so. States Lauren, “I try to bear in mind that instead of spending too much energy on it, even mental or emotional, just get and stay as far away from them as possible.” She attended a peak performers lecture given by Les Brown who termed these individuals, “toxic people” and his advice was to just avoid them because they tend to be bundles of negative energy, that’s all they have to offer and if not careful, they can drain you of your own positive energy.

But, what if you have no other choice, given the circumstances, and must continue to work with the individual who has betrayed you? It is often very hard and uncomfortable to confront an individual who has betrayed you–especially when they either believe their untruths or continue to be manipulative in trying to convince you that your perceptions are dilutions. Geri Larkin, PhD, Ordained Dharma Teacher Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, Detroit Michigan and author of Building a Business the Buddhist Way (Celestial Arts Press, 1999), gives the following suggestion when attempting to resolve an issue with an individual who you wish to continue a working relationship. You may want to ask the person in conflict, “What can we do differently to avoid the same situation from re-occuring?” In a spiritual environment, we also need to learn to let things go and move on vs. harboring negativity. Perhaps the benefits with continuing a relationship outweigh the person’s shortcomings. Only you can evaluate the situation.

Keep in mind that for every complaint, there is a request. Your associate may accuse you or try to blame you for something that they wish not to take ownership for. In many situations, it takes “two to tango,” so to speak. Put it on them. Ask them, “What are you asking of me?” Or, “what would you like me to do about this?” Often, you may find that when the person knows he or she is wrong and is just trying to shift the blame on to you, they have no answer for this question.

Use your intuition. Notice body language, eye contact, tone of voice where hands are placed, etc. You can figure out the story. Most importantly, hang in there and believe in yourself! When you have a strong sense of self and know who you are, you will always come out smelling like a rose.

Beverly Price, RD, MA, RYT

Beverly Price is a Registered Dietitian, author, newspaper columnist and public speaker who made a name for herself with her unique approach to nutrition counseling. After 11 years in private practice, she sold Living Better Sensibly — one of the largest private nutrition practices in the country – to an independent nutrition-counseling firm, and started Jump Start Consulting specializing in management and marketing strategies for dietitians and other healthcare professionals, along with distance learning products for continuing professional education. http://www.gettingthatjumpstart.com