Career Strategies: Neutralize Your Office Enemies

I’m sure everyone you work with loves you but, in case they don’t, here are some tips on enemy management.  Let me preface this by reminding you that you don’t necessarily make enemies, some people decide independently to become enemies because it suits them.  You have probably developed a loathing for someone you work with for wholly irrational reasons, bad chemistry, a real or perceived slight, etc.  The point is to neutralize your enemies so they don’t interfere with your performance or goals.

Neutralize your office enemies

What is an enemy?  Anyone prepared to act against your interests for any reason — or no reason — is an enemy.  If you want to know why enemies exist ask a psychologist.  If you want to know how to deal with them, that’s why I’m here.  Here are techniques that, at worst, will neutralize your detractors and, at best, turn them to reluctant supporters.

1.  Kill your enemies with attention and kindness.  Whoever said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” was the font of all wisdom.  Avoidance is a zero sum game.  Pretending you and your enemies are friends will drive them crazy and limit their options.  If you and Jane are pals how can she snipe at you more than once?

2.  Fight bullies.  If someone is harassing you or sniping, ask why.  The more questions you ask of a bully while maintaining absolute sincere interest in the answers the sooner that behavior will stop.  You may find out you have wounded that person in the past.  An apology will constrain his or her behavior.

3.  Never use self-deprecating humor.  Don’t tell negative stories about yourself unless you want them repeated as gospel.  The only safe topics that can’t come back to bite you are your pets and the weather.  Even pets can be iffy.

4.  Apologize even if you think you are not to blame.  This is not cowardice, it’s smart office politics.  Do you really care what these people think or are you just trying to do the job well enough to get promoted or to get the next big job?

5.  Never become a true friend of a co-worker unless one of you is out the door.  Remember the eternal truth:  Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.  Never confide in a co-worker.  Ever.

Finally,  refusing to take offense even when you could will throw bad behavior back on the perp.  You will gain twice the satisfaction  watching your enemy squirm as in defending yourself and being judged “right.”

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

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Filed under Boomers, Career Strategies, Millennials and GenX, Office Politics