5 Effective Ways to Deal With a Sabotaging Co-Worker

And getting even is not an option

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As much as we’d like to make friends in the workplace, the reality is that our desires don’t always happen.

According to research from Ross School of Business alum Olenka Kacperczyk, professionals aren’t as friendly in the workplace as they used to be. In 1985, approximately 50% of Americans had someone at work who they considered a close friend. By 2004, that number had decreased to 30%.

[Related: Your Coworkers Are Not Your Friends]

For many, the attempt to forge a relationship at work is blocked by a sabotaging co-worker who does everything in their power to keep you from winning. If this situation sounds all too familiar to you, use these tips to help you survive the politics of your workspace.

1. Don’t be too quick to open up: Getting along with co-workers can make your work life much easier and naturally, you may be inclined to invite them into your circle upon first introduction. Be careful about how much you open up to them and never fall into the trap of feeling like you have to overexpose yourself to get them to like you. Revealing too much information can be spun into the ammunition they need to block you from that next promotion or recommendation.

2. Document everything: The best way to cover for yourself and build your argument is to put everything in writing. Avoid the ‘he say, she say’ conversations and save all e-mails, texts, paper documents, etc. that you’ve exchanged with your co-worker to ensure they have no room to throw you under the bus to another colleague or supervisor.

3. Do not get even: Although it’s easier said than done, getting even with your saboteur will not make the situation better. The last thing you need is for your record of playing tit-for-tat to be presented to HR.

4. Laugh it off: Once your saboteur sees that you’re not affected by their scheming acts, they will soon realize that their actions are futile.

5. Report to HR: Reporting a situation to HR is probably the last thing you want to do because no one wants to come across like a tattletale in the workplace. However, if the situation continues to escalate reporting your issue to HR will be your safest option. But before doing any of this, do a little bit of self-evaluation to ensure that you aren’t the root of the problem.



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