How To Deal With Bad Relations At Work

Is there someone at work that you have bad relations with? Jealous colleagues can cause a sour autmosphere and can hurt your progression at work. Find out how you can change this.

We've all been victims of the workplace saboteur: that insecure person who makes herself look better by making other people look bad. If you're enjoying some success and a rising profile at work, be prepared: it's pretty likely that you'll be the target of resentment from some of your less high-profile colleagues. Here's how to protect yourself from professional jealousy.

Reconnect with your colleagues

If you've been burying yourself in work lately, chances are that you've lost touch with what's going on in the lives of those you work with. The end of a relationship, a sick child, a demanding elderly parent - a million different crises could be going on in people's personal lives, making them more likely to be difficult to work with. It's a rare person indeed who can leave EVERY kind of problem behind them when they step through the office door.

Take an extra 10 minutes in the staff room to chat with people you perhaps haven't said more than "good morning" to in months. Slip in the occasional comment like "Hey, great to talk to you again - I've been a bit swamped lately", and your workmates are more likely to realize you're still one of them and don't deserve their resentment.

Confront the problem

Sometimes a colleague will express their jealousy of your success more aggressively. You could find yourself the butt of an office joke, or the subject of some vicious gossip designed to undermine your credibility. Maintain your composure as you ask around to find out the source of this malicious rumour - you don't want to validate it by stamping around the office demanding to know where this misinformation came from.

Once you're sure of the rumour's source, confront the person who started it, calmly and in private. Behind a closed office door, explain to them that you have heard that they've started a rumour about you which is untrue, and hurtful. Most people, when confronted in such a dignified and rational manner, will feel horribly guilty, and apologize for what they claim is a misunderstanding. Remember that this person is a gossip, so everything you say during this confrontation will probably be transmitted to the rest of the office. Ask politely but firmly that this behavior stops now.

Taking it further

What if this person is not shamed by such a civilized confrontation? If the rumours continue, or you find your professional credibility being undermined in additional ways, there's only one effective remedy that can protect all that good work you've put in on your career. You need to go straight to your boss and explain the situation. And there's a right way and a wrong way to go about this.

The wrong way is to march into her office while you're still furious. You risk choosing an inopportune moment - she is unlikely to be receptive to an apparently hysterical employee while preparing an important, last-minute presentation for the company's biggest client.

Instead, approach her and make an appointment to see her privately the following day. Tell her only that you need to talk about an important issue, but would like to have all the information to hand. Use the intervening time to prepare your case. Write down each piece of evidence you have about the campaign to undermine your credibility, and also note what you have done in each instance to try and rectify the situation. Don't hesitate to take these notes in with you to the meeting: they will help you to stay focused and on track, and make you less likely to lapse into angry accusations.

When the meeting time arrives, shut the boss's office door firmly behind you and present your case in a calm and professional manner. Ask her to take action to stop the distressing behavior, and emphasize that you don't want your efforts at work to be devalued or dismissed. Point out that you are working at full capacity, and it's unfair that your career should be jeopardized by someone else's petty jealousy.

By adopting one or all of the above approaches, you send a clear message out to both your colleagues and your boss: you're saying that you expect respect and recognition for the hard work you put into the job.

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