Handle a Sabotaging Coworker
by Beverly West
We all like to think of our coworkers as friends, but what happens when you become the target of a coworker's dirty politics? Here are some strategies that can help you keep the peace without losing your edge, shared by fellow soldiers on the office wars' front lines.
It is wise to have some good measures in place to protect yourself if you ever fall under a colleague's attack.
"Always have backup for everything you've done in case a coworker tries to place blame on you," says Aubyn Peterson, an administrative assistant for the Miss USA Pageant. For instance, save all emails with pertinent ideas you contributed and work you've done. "This way, you can be prepared to answer any difficult questions from your boss confidently, and it won't just be your word against somebody else's," she says. "You'll have written proof."
It's also important to remember the old adage about squeaky wheels getting the grease. "If you feel that a coworker is trying to oust you out of a well-deserved promotion, then do your job exceedingly well and make some noise," says Peterson. "Make sure your boss notices your excellent performance, and make doubly sure that your boss knows that you want to be promoted."
Rise Above the Drama of Coworker Sabotage
If you can, don't let your coworker's anger or frustration get to you. You don't have to play a major role in somebody else's drama, and your coworker's hostility doesn't have to undermine your positive self-image or job performance.
"My first instincts are to resort to a voodoo doll, a stapler or a tube of Super Glue, but I fight those urges and try to remain calm and peaceful," says Richard Ogawa, a sales and special events assistant for Broadway On and Off, a group ticket sales organization.
"I just avoid the situation," he says. "I don't give the person the time of day. I don't get upset. I'm not mean, and I try to feel sorry for him for being in a state of mind that triggers him to create drama to make himself feel better."
Laugh, If Possible
Try to find the humor, if any, in the situation. Ogawa has a few tricks he plays on himself to generate a little comic relief and defuse the tension. For instance, "whenever you want to yell ‘idiot,' yell ‘you superstar' inside," Ogawa suggests.
Try to Communicate
There are times, though, when avoidance and humour won't work, and you have no choice but to address the situation. "If it comes down to having to confront the coworker, try and approach the situation with logic, not emotion," says Peterson, who stresses that it is important for you to honestly make an effort to communicate with your coworker and try to see where he is coming from.