Work & Play
Smoke out Your Office Enemies Now!
By Mike Hammer
Which co-workers can you trust and which are out to shut down your career? Use these methods to test the staff and find out who’s on your side.
Sometimes, the office can be as treacherous to navigate as the prison yard at San Quentin. You may not wind up with a shank in your side, but there’s a better-than-even chance somebody wants to stab you in the back and use your stinkin’ carcass as a stepping stone for their own advancement.
Office predators are constantly looking for fresh prey to steal credit from, or dump on to cover their own crappy work or simply thin out the herd so they can stand out in a smaller crowd.
Face it, kids: It’s a jungle in there. And short of carrying an elephant gun in your computer case -- which we’re sure is illegal in at least two states -- we’ve got some strategic advice to help you identify office enemies.
Establish Attack Patterns
“When you join any company, there is real benefit to identifying the culture,” says Roy Cohen, a former placement counselor for Goldman Sachs and a career coach for the Five O’Clock Club, a professional counseling network. “Ask for full scouting reports about who you can rely on and who to be wary of. But do it in a way that makes it seem like you want to find the best method to work with everybody. You may get surface-y answers at first, but people tend to send signals about people that may indicate where you should place your trust.”
Don’t Play Your Cards Until They Play Theirs
Make Allies in the Trenches
“It’s good to get to know everyone in the office environment,” says Cohen. “People below the management level often have a good perspective on everyone’s true behavior and habits. They’re exposed to people as they really are and can give you good insights into who to trust and who to look out for.”
If There’s Smoke … Let Your Co-workers Help You Find the Fire
Green points out that letting rumors run wild is like leaving a fire unattended. Put your enemy at ease by letting them know you’ve come armed with the best intentions. Green suggests saying something like, “I am assuming you had good intentions, but can you help me understand why you said XXX? In the future, if you have any questions about me or something I did, please let me know. I really want to work effectively with you, and that would help a lot.”
Stay Focused on Finger Pointers
Make Sure You’re Really in the Crosshairs Before Firing Back
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Mike Hammer is a writer and former editor of Maxim, Stuff and Shock. He has proven time and time again that he can ward off enemies in the cutthroat world of magazines.
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