Exactly What To Say When A Co-Worker Throws You Under The Bus In A Meeting With Your Boss

Make sure you're advocating for yourself at work, even with testy co-workers.

Co-workers having a meeting with their boss. Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

You've probably heard countless tips for navigating a difficult work workplace, but what about dealing with toxic co-workers? Overly competitive and outwardly hostile colleagues can wear on you both emotionally and physically, and before you know it, you’re spending more time thinking about what you did to offend them than your work itself.

Employment expert Samira Amin took to Instagram to share the specifics on co-worker culture, specifically, the exact responses you should have prepared in case your frenemy co-worker tries to “throw you under the bus” in an important meeting.


Amin suggested two ways to respond to co-workers who try to throw you under the bus during a meeting:

Instead of trying to constantly fight back, Amin suggested “meeting them where they are.”

“Don’t try to change them at this stage in their career or life,” she added. "Find out what their working style is, how they prefer to work with your team, and what role they play in your working relationship, and adjust to that.”

@samiraamin22 You may not love this, but its the most tactful and peaceful approach. Ofcourse, if they cross the line, start to bully you, then that needs to be addressed differently. #leadership #leadershipskills #careeradvice #corporatelife #careertiktok #corporatetiktok ♬ original sound - Samira | Mindset & Career

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Sometimes, looking out for yourself in the workplace takes preparation, confidence, and relinquishing control over how others interact with you. “You may not love this,” she said, “but it’s the most tactful and peaceful approach.”

1. If they’re blaming you, walk through your specific role and responsibilities and offer solutions.

If you’re working with someone who’s constantly blaming you, shifting accountability, or even straight-up lying about your contributions, chances are you’re not going to “change their mind” about the quality of your work. 

There’s likely an underlying reason for their deliberate undermining. Of course, intuition can tell you a lot about someone's motives, and you know, based on the work you've done, whether their criticism is constructive or callous.

Co-worker looking stressed during work meeting. Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com


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Amin suggested one phrase for addressing people blaming you, especially in the presence of bosses or managers: “[Peers/Execs name], there seems to be a misunderstanding regarding [project issue]. I was responsible for [your specific task/contribution], and while there were challenges, we implemented [solution] to ensure [add outcome],” she wrote. “Moving forward, we can [suggest next steps] to ensure we are aligned.”

Address the problem they’ve called out, restate your original project responsibilities and role, relay any challenges you ran into, and then work through solutions. A sense of calmness, a lack of immediate urgency to defend yourself, and an aura of confidence will speak for itself.

2. If they’re misinterpreting your work, address the correction and offer solutions to avoid confusion in the future.

If they’re not directly challenging or calling out a piece of your work, but rather misunderstanding it completely, she suggested using another prepared statement.


“[Peers/Execs name], on the point regarding [misrepresented fact], my understanding is [correct information]. Moving forward, we can [suggest next steps] to ensure we are aligned.”

woman addressing co-worker during a meeting Jacob Lund / Canva Pro

The key to this conversation, including any interaction with a combative colleague, is to remain calm


Don’t interrupt someone to defend yourself. Try your best not to speak from an overtly emotional mindset but rather a calm, collected, and confident one.

At the end of the day, we’re all human — from the moment we log into work to the time we go to bed at home. We’re going to make mistakes at work, and that's okay. There will also be times when our co-workers make mistakes and try to put the blame on us. When those instances arise, keeping calm, cool, and collected can and will make all the difference.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.