You can say anything. It can be the most beautiful or inspiring speech everyone has heard. You can grab someone by the shoulder, look him in the eye, and say “I love you, Brother. I have nothing but respect for you and trust you to handle this.”
And then IMMEDIATELY after he goes on out about his business, you go around him, use someone else to undercut him, undermine his ability to lead his team, and then decide a staff meeting with everyone is the appropriate time to discuss his perceived job performance.
Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience. This happened to me. And I had a contentious one on two discussion with the former employer who did this. This was actually part of a multipronged manipulative strategy on his part not only to trigger me, but to alienate me from the rest of the team. (Trust me… He was really good at this.) Follow this up with the “Oh, you misunderstood me…” and it was Classic Gaslighting Gold.
The point is that actions and behavior will tell you a hell of a lot more about someone’s thoughts and intentions than all of the most complimentary words rolling off the tongue.
The problem with dressing up shit with fresh Sourdough bread, Roma tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, Pepperjack cheese, and homemade Thousand Island dressing, is that it is still shit. Don’t fucking eat it. Call it out for what it really is. Will they like it? Nope. And yes, doing so may indeed get you fired. If the backbiting is indeed that damn bad, you won’t be missing much.
Either make sure your actions line up with your words or stop saying them, because you’re lying.