People who talk badly about you behind your back are the “worst” type of negative people. They are cowardly and won’t say what bothers them to your face. So if they deny what’s really going on, how can you have any impact? Here are some things you can try:
1. Do your homework. If you don’t know the person well, get to know everything thing about them. Is it just you that’s the target of their negativity, or do they do the same thing with other people?
What is underneath? Are they insecure, frightened of something they are dealing with? Why YOU? Are you doing anything to evoke their passive-aggressive behavior?
2. So what’s really going on? What is their gripe with you? Ask someone you have a good relationship with if they could enlighten you. When they tell you what’s being said about you, try not to get defensive. Is there an element of truth in it?
3. Does the person who is talking behind your back get along with anyone? There probably is someone. Study the nature of their relationship. Is there anything you have learned about how to approach the person in question?
4. Role-play with an ally. Get someone you trust to spend about half an hour with you. Tell them everything you learned about the person in question and map out a strategy about how to approach them. Then take action–what have you got to lose? If things remain the same, so be it. Just keep doing your work and don’t focus on their “small stuff.” At least you tried.