Signs Of A Backstabber: Is There A Jay Leno In Your Circle?

A few years back when Conan O'Brien got the axe from NBC and landed himself a deal at TBS in the 11 o'clock time slot, George Lopez, the man whom he was replacing, graciously conceded his job. But when Lopez appeared on "Piers Morgan Tonight" in 2011, the comedian showed a different side of talk show camaraderie when addressing another host.

He was quoted as calling Jay Leno "the biggest two-faced dude" and admitted that nobody in the late night business, like Kimmel and Letterman (definitely Letterman), are "not crazy" about Leno. In other words, none of his peers like him.

The moral of the story is simple. It's much easier to respect someone who has succeeded largely based on his own merit as opposed to a person who couldn't make it to the top without backstabbing a colleague or two.

In the same way comedians have Jay Leno (who notoriously, and undeservedly some say, "stole" the "Tonight Show," the holy grail of late night television, from David Letterman, who was seen as the heir to Johnny Carson), everyone, whether it's in the office or amongst your friends, knows that guy.

He, or she, is the backstabber: the one that's liable to talk behind your back or take what you said in confidence as ammunition to take you down. If you're not close enough to this person to be affected by their ways, you probably know someone who is, and you probably shake your head when you see your friend talking to the frienemy in question.

Just so we're clear, this is NOT something that should be taken lightly. At worst, backstabbers can cheat you out of money, promotions, jobs, relationships, credit or any other accomplishment or gain.

Luckily, for those who don't want to end up at the end of a sharp knife, there are telltale signs of a backstabber that, after a while, can help you point 'em out. Consider the words of Fox Business' Steve Tobak for example, who labels backstabbers as ones infected with a disease and then spells out the symptoms.

"The pathology of this particularly insidious disease tends to follow a common pattern," he says. "Avoiding anything remotely associated with actual work, taking as much undeserved credit for success as possible, and ensuring that someone else takes the blame when things go terribly wrong, as they inevitably do."

Noticing a trace of these signs shouldn't prompt you to bug out and initiate confrontation out of nowhere. But, if you've noticed this type of behavior in someone, and it's directly affected you, ethics coach Gael O'Brien, writing for Entrepreneur, offers some solutions for you. Tip #1: Nip it in the bud.

"Call out the bad seed on his actions, and make it clear that you expect him to stop," he said. "Explain that by bad-mouthing you, he has lost your trust. But the conversation has to go two ways: Listen to his response, and decide if it's worth it to you to keep the relationship going."

Whatever happens in the end, experience with an individual with back-stabbing tendencies should be an educating experience. Ruthlessly cutting off every person that exhibits back-stabbing-like symptoms isn't necessary though -- each one isn't your arch-enemy. They could be insecure, they could even be worth your empathy or pity. Regardless, you should still take preventative steps that make you less prone to having their actions directly affect your prosperity, especially in the workplace.

"Use the experience to think about what triggered you to trust the person in question and how you can keep things from similarly going off the rails in the future," O'Brien said. "Before opening up to others in your field, you may need to do more research (such as talking with references) about the way they conduct business, whether they value other people's interests or just their own, if they accept responsibility or blame others and how they treat others in competitive or collaborative situations."

Ultimately, networking, meeting other people and making new friends is part of the growing experience and can lead to new opportunities, but sticking to what you know is never bad idea.

"And, of course, you should work with your inner circle to keep this from ever happening again," O'Brien says.

Now that you're informed, make sure to check for the symptoms of those around you. The last thing you want is an undercover Jay Leno.