By Kristin Granero
As many can attest, the people at your work can have just as much impact as, if not more than, the job itself, which is why it can be soul-crushing (and maybe career-crushing) when there’s someone on your team who’s out to get you.
Maybe you feel like they’re taking credit for your ideas, gossiping behind your back, or belittling you in meetings. Whatever the offense is, something has to be done.
“It is impossible to change someone’s inherent personality traits, however it is absolutely possible to be in control of our relationships with difficult people,” says Julie Jansen, career coach and author of You Want Me to Work With Who?.
The problem is that most people don’t try to make peace with their arch nemesis because they don’t think it will make a difference or they don’t know how, says Jansen. But you can totally do it.
Here are some of the most effective tactics for taking down—or at least steering clear of—your office enemy (otherwise known as OE). Then, you can get back to crushing that next big feature story.
- Remain professional
As difficult as it may be, Jansen says it’s important to listen, acknowledge, and ask polite questions when dealing with an office enemy. This should always be your first approach so that if things get rough you know you behaved professionally, she says. Chances are that others will observe this too, which could work in your favor if matters escalate, she explains.
- Find Common Ground
Once you’ve managed to keep your cool, you might want to try keeping your OE’s interest. “While you don’t have to invite them to a spa weekend, attempt to find something you have in common,” says Jansen. This will give you something to talk about when you’re forced to be in contact, and could help make them feel more connected to you after all. In short, kill ’em with kindness.
- Confront Her
We’re not suggesting you get physical, but if you’ve tried the last two tactics no avail, it could be worth addressing your issues head on. “Ask if you can talk to her privately,” says Jansen. Don’t criticize her personality or make her feel ganged up on by telling her that everyone thinks she sucks, says Jansen.
Instead, give her several recent examples of her behavior that hurt you, and tell her that you’re just trying to understand why she’s behaving this way. If she gets defensive or angry, acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation but you think it’s important to discuss.”
- Speak to your editor
If it’s gotten to the point where your office enemy is making a real impact on your well being and affecting your work, you may have to talk to a superior, says Jansen.
Just be careful with how you frame your convo. “Focus your discussion on the ways that her behavior impacts business, your morale, or results. Tell your editor that you have taken steps to remedy the situation (i.e. steps one through three) before coming to them for help,” says Jansen.
- Make an appointment with HR
If your manager does not intervene and your office enemy’s bad behavior continues, it’s time to go to human resources, says Jansen. Bring documentation of the difficult behavior/incidents and the tactics you’ve used to try to resolve the situation. Come with a few solutions in mind, such as moving to a different part of the office or pairing up with another person on your team, she suggests.