Workplace Politics

At the start of a new job you hope that your co-workers will become a second family. At the very least, you certainly expect that they will like you and not tease you. And you undoubtedly hope that they won’t talk behind your back or criticize you in front of supervisors. While you may dream of a workplace utopia, a perfect working environment rarely exists.

During your career you will undoubtedly come into contact with co-workers who go for the jugular. While sometimes they will retaliate for something you inadvertently said or did, other times there will be no reason for their war against you beyond their own jealousy or ego.

So what should you do if you have an enemy in your ranks? Before you turn the other cheek or prepare to do battle, try these 10 helpful steps:

1. Rethink the situation. Did you do something to warrant their attack? If so, admit your mistake and apologize in private.

2. Laugh away a public insult with a non-defensive retort. Avoid overreacting to a public attackÑa calm response may help diffuse the situation.

3. If you are confronted during a meeting, defend yourself in a composed manner. Stand up for whatever action, idea or program is being attacked. Answer any questions and offer to explain your side of the situation further to anyone who has further questions after the meeting.

4. Kill your nemesis with kindness. Do him or her an enormous favor to upset the scales. For example, you can back up one of his or her suggestions to your department head or supervisor.

5. Get to know your adversary. Find out how he or she got their job, who their mentors are, where they worked before, and what their goals and motives are. Just showing an interest can sometimes help to mend fences. And if it doesnÕt improve the situation, knowing everything you can about your enemy can still be helpful. Knowledge is power.

6. Build up your own troops to outnumber your enemy’s. Make sure that top administrators and physicians are included in your campÑnumbers count.

7. Stand up for yourself. If you tend to have a passive personality, do the unexpected and confront your opponent. Remember, if you give respect you should expect respect.

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8. Continue to work hard. Even if you’re having difficulties with your co-workers, it is extremely important that you maintain professionalism and continue to produce great work. DonÕt be afraid to contribute new ideas and donÕt be modest about sharing your accomplishments with supervisors.

9. Get rid of them. If you canÕt work it out with your co-worker, maybe you should start looking for a new jobÑfor them! Keeps your eyes and ears open; maybe you will hear of a perfect position for them at another facility. You can also recommend your foe for a promotion or lateral move to another department.

10. Develop your own networks and participate in professional associations. Do more than just joinÑget active and form relationships with your colleagues. If all else fails, find a new position where you are respected.

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