No one likes to believe someone at work is out to get them. Work is challenging enough without feeling you have to watch your back. What if you’re just being paranoid? Maybe you’ve been feeling a little off your game recently or having a self-confidence lull. But, what if those feelings turn out to be right on target? You could be the victim of sabotage by a co-worker. What can you do about it?
Identify the Signs of Sabotage
If you suspect someone is out to get you, here are some signs:
· Get a friend’s opinion – Some people are really good at trusting their instincts – they read people well, are adept at discovering underlying motives and very perceptive. But if you’re not sure about trusting your gut, tell a trusted friend what’s been going on and get their reaction. If they agree it sounds “off,” then you have a good place to start.
· Look for “tells” – A term used in poker, a “tell” is body language that allows players to read each other and anticipate a play. When people are lying or uncomfortable in a situation (unless they’re a psychopath!), you can usually read the signs. Lack of eye contact and hesitation in their speech are two tells.
· Taking credit or blaming – You may find out this person is taking credit for your work or blaming you for screwing up a project. Remember, that a person who will throw you under the bus can be very convincing and your boss and co-workers may be buying in.
· Examine motives – Are you competing with this person for a promotion? Are they insecure in their job performance overall? Do they generally not play fair?
How to Stop the Saboteur
Although the situation may feel hopeless, you do have some recourse to stop it.
· Document – Keep meticulous notes about the events that have led you to conclude you’re being sabotaged.
· Meet with the person – Typically, back-stabbers like to avoid confrontation. Covert operations are more their thing. Ask for a meeting and then explore what’s going on. “Did I do something to offend you or do you have some issue with me?” Be as direct and specific as you can.
· Present your evidence to the boss – This has to be handled carefully or you could look like the office gossip or tattle-tail. If you have problems convincing your boss, you may need to include HR.
· Do your best work – In some cases, outshining the saboteur shouldn’t be too difficult. It takes energy and time to mess with someone at work and their own work product may have suffered.
If the situation gets to the point that your reputation and good standing in your job is compromised and you aren’t able to make your case, it might mean you’ll have to cut your losses and look for another job.
But keep your chin up and take pride in having integrity and wanting to work in a safe environment with like-minded people.
Written by regular Jobacle contributor Nancy LaFever. Find more of her critical thinking on her blog, where she overanalyzes the bizarre grocery shopping lists of the single demographic.