Working with the Enemy

Working with the Enemy

Have you ever had to deal with a disrespectful coworker who makes your life miserable on the job? Know this: you are not alone. Nine out of 10 workers say they have experienced uncivil behavior and have witnessed it, according to a study by Georgetown University and Thunderbird School of Global Management of nearly 3,000 participants.

Such nasty colleagues can come in various flavors of unpleasantness, from condescending to confrontational to creepy to downright conniving. And when he or she is hellbent on stealing your credit for a job well done or making you look bad, your morale and performance can take a major hit.

So, how do you handle a competitive coworker who thinks nothing of throwing you under the bus? First, chill out. You will have to think about your approach in a calm manner. After all, there is no escaping this person unless you are ready to change jobs.

Stay one step ahead of sabotaging coworkers with the following measures:

  1. Document your work. From presentations to projects, make sure management recognizes your contributions. Make it difficult for someone to steal kudos that belong to you.
  2. It pays to be kind. Staying positive when someone is hellbent on undermining you requires enormous patience and discipline. But your upbeat attitude and smiling face may disarm your colleague and build your support network.
  3. Don’t be a doormat. Stand up for yourself, but do it in a polite and professional manner. Be prepared. Practice your response in front of the mirror or use a video recorder. The goal is to respond without getting emotional. Be prepared.
  4. Involve a third party. If all else fails, you may need to get others involved or go to your Human Resources department, especially if the conniving coworker is also a bully. This is where good documentation comes in handy.

Whatever you do, ignoring the problem is not an option. Empower yourself to make your work day good or bad. Don’t let a competitive coworker decide.

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at