What is the chance that you can go through your entire working life without having to deal with a difficult co-worker or boss? We’re betting close to zero – if not absolute zero!! When you consider the various personalities, individual ambitions, and competition for advancement, you are bound to experience a little drama at least once in your life— and more likely, once a year! We want to share some ways to help you deal with those difficult people you may meet along the way. That is why we’ve put together our top three ways to deal with those pain-in-the-rear co-workers.
1. Be prepared for conflict.
When starting any job, be aware that each co-worker you meet has his or her own agenda. It won’t take long to recognize who is ready to throw you under the metaphorical bus. Talk to your co-workers; learn all you can about the various functions and positions. They will appreciate you taking an interest in them—and, in turn, take an interest in you. In addition, a boss may try to block advancement opportunities within the company. “Being prepared” means exploring horizontal moves within the corporate ladder and developing connections to make those horizontal moves possible. It means looking for opportunities to discuss your work with others, such as your boss’s boss, and invite their input. If you are under 30, you represent the future of the company, and senior executives at some level will want to invest in you. Find them, grow your relationship with them, and be prompt to respond whenever they need help.
2. Shower your co-worker with kindness.
Perhaps you have heard the saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” (That has been attributed to Machiavelli – but was borrowed from the Chinese general Sun-Tsu, and even, in modern day, Michael Coreleone!)
What this saying means is to keep your friends close because they are people you can trust and rely on. And to be aware that there may be others who want to undermine your efforts. You need to be aware of what they are doing. One way is to “shower them with kindness.” This is another adage that is relevant to your situation. Be genuinely nice, but don’t be surprise if your kindness is not returned. Just continue to be yourself – co-workers and your boss will notice, and chances are, you will be the one selected for the promotion.
3. Protect all your documents.
One of the most common problems in corporate America is the misrepresentation of information. Bosses taking credit for work, superiors changing work to make their employees look bad, co-workers stealing work and presenting it as their own—the problem abounds. So, how can we combat this? Well, first, make sure that in each document you correctly set the document properties, including author, date of last edit, and tags that include your name and title. We also recommend that you PDF any documents being sent. Make sure to make any Word or PDF documents “read-only.” This means people won’t be able to edit the document without your permission (you can change these settings when you are saving your documents in various programs). If you don’t have the ability to do this and you suspect foul play, let a close co-worker know, and BCC them on any email with outgoing documents—this way you have two time stamps on the internal computer network—making “he said/she said” a complete non-issue if things ever hit the fan.
No one wants to deal with some of the people we have to interact with on a daily basis at our corporate jobs. But let’s be honest, it is probably going to happen. Make light of the situation: shower them with kindness, be prepared, and stick it out until you get to move on within the company. Don’t let someone else ruin your workday—or your career. No one dictates your ability to succeed but you.
William L. Mehserle Jr. is co-founder and lead strategist at Khraze.com, a new media marketing company that creates custom marketing strategies for clients. He also co-founded the personalized gift company theExpressionary.com. You can connect with him on Twitter at @WilliamMehserle or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/mehserle
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One way is to “shower them with kindness.” You can find great gifts for coworkers and bosses to help with this.