Rivals at work: their moves, your career

“Can I request your advice on something that has been a concern for sometime in my profession? How do you deal with jealous colleagues who are bent upon sabotaging your career? It has happened to me time and again and I am at a loss as to how to deal with this.” This was an email I received a few days back from a friend. Often people complain of being pulled down by some of their colleagues. Though it may not fit all situations, I feel the following approach may be worth trying:

1. Ask yourself: why a particular colleague does not like you? Conflicts generally are of two types: conflicts of behaviours and conflicts of interest. If behaviours are not compatible, people may not get along. And, then there may be conflict of interest like two colleagues eying for the same position/career enhancing opportunity etc. An assessment of the nature of conflict will help in dealing with the situation.

2. Make a sincere effort to communicate with such colleagues and engage with them. Find areas of common interest – sports/games, films, books, music, shopping etc.  Once we find a common area of interest, it will be possible to spend time with each other, understand each other better and communication gap will reduce.

3. In most situations, such colleagues behave like this due to their own sense of insecurity. They oppose more competent colleagues in different ways. They create bottlenecks, pass remarks and may not give credit for the work done.  If it is possible to simply ignore them, do it. If it is not possible to ignore them, then be proactive – anticipate their moves and take necessary action. Important point here is not to lose focus on your work. A top performer sees his goal, not hurdles. Don’t get distracted. By continuing to do work with sincerity and dedication, you will be noticed by those who matter. I know it is not good for self-esteem to hear constant criticism but if we know that it is coming from insecure people, it should not matter.

Finally, remember that you need to respond in a professional and dignified way always. I really like what someone once said, “If you fight with the pig, you are going to get dirty and the pig really likes that”.

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3 Responses to Rivals at work: their moves, your career

  1. S M Baqar says:

    In a recent interview with Sachin Tendulkar the interviewer asked how he coped with negative comments of people and experts specially during the bad patch of his career. He replied that it was really heart breaking to see headlines like “Endulkar” meaning approaching end of his career. He felt pain because He was trying his best and adversaries are thinking that he is prolonging his career and taking advantage of his status and past records. To deal with this he asked 2 questions to himself (1) Am i still passionate about cricket? (2)Am I capable of giving attention to only those things that are in my control without any distraction? Fortunately for India and for millions of his fans he found answers of both the questions in “Yes” and rest is history. At the age of 37 he he is capable of giving his best in a competitive sport like cricket. We should also keep in mind that ” Not only good colleagues or boss build our capacities but jealous colleagues or adversaries also help us greatly by making us alert and proactive in our approach. They also help us in developing our power of anticipation.

  2. Pushpinder says:

    Its an extremely interesting observation and something that most of us can relate to. Jealousy and back biting in office is normal and one should just ignore it. You get influenced by negativitity only if you are not confident yourself. If you give in and get agitated or emotional, people will trouble you even more. The observation about the “pig” is so true! People are the same and they actually enjoy it if they can hurt or bother you. Turn a deaf ear and see the difference!!

  3. Indrani says:

    Thanks for the advice. Rivalry and jealousy are common at the workplace. The suggestions to overcome them are very useful and practical. In such situations there is no point is wasting time trying to counter such actions or efforts of immature colleagues. The best way to handle such situations is to continue to do your work with utmost sincerity and dedication. This pays in the long run. After all hard work is like a solid rock which cannot be damaged by momentary storms.

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