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In the fast-paced and competitive world of work, interpersonal relationships can play a significant role in shaping our experiences and career growth.
Unfortunately, not all workplace interactions are positive and supportive. If you find yourself questioning the intentions of your boss or co-worker, suspecting that they might be trying to sabotage you, it can be a distressing and confusing situation.
In this week’s article, I’ll look at the signs to watch out for and provide insights on handling potential workplace sabotage with tact and professionalism.
Signs of Potential Sabotage
Following are just some of the most common sabotage techniques I’ve either witnessed first-hand or from my clients:
1. Exclusion from Communications
If you notice a consistent pattern of being excluded from important meetings, emails, or decision-making processes, it could be a sign of sabotage.
2. Undermining Your Efforts
A co-worker or boss might intentionally criticise your work, take credit for your ideas, or belittle your achievements to undermine your credibility.
3. Spreading Rumours
Gossip or unfounded rumours aimed at tarnishing your reputation within the workplace could be a tactic used as sabotage. This also includes turning others against you.
4. Assigning Unrealistic Deadlines or Tasks
Sabotaging individuals might give you impossible deadlines or tasks with little or no support or resources, setting you up for failure.
5. Withholding Information
Deliberately withholding crucial information or resources that you need to perform your job effectively.
6. Passive Aggressive Behaviour
Consistent passive-aggressive remarks, eye-rolling, tutting, or sarcastic comments may indicate underlying hostility.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used to make you doubt your reality and perceptions. If someone gaslights you, they’ll likely deny or invalidate your feelings and experiences/version of events.
Incidentally, all of the above points you will see in the ‘Devaluation’ phase of the narcissistic abuse cycle. You can read more on that here.
Handling Potential Sabotage
Unfortunately, this type of sabotage is all too common and something that I frequently support clients in managing in their coaching sessions.
Following are a few of the tools you can use if you think your manager or co-worker is trying to sabotage you:
1. Stay Objective
When you suspect sabotage, remaining calm and objective is essential. Avoid jumping to conclusions and take time to assess the situation rationally.
2. Document Instances
Keep a record of any incidents or behaviours that seem suspicious. Having documentation can help you better analyse the situation and discuss concerns if needed.
Documented evidence will also be crucial if, at some later date, you wish to take raise the problem formally.
3. Seek Feedback
Seek constructive feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors to gain an outside perspective on your performance and behaviour.
4. Address the Issue
If you feel comfortable, address your concerns directly with the person involved. I would always recommend doing that in the first instance. Choose a private and non-confrontational setting for the conversation.
However, I DO NOT recommend that you start by saying you think that they are sabotaging you! Instead, ask them if you’ve done something to upset them or sense an atmosphere and don’t want an uncomfortable work environment.
Be prepared to give them solid examples because the type of people who engage in this behaviour do not like being confronted about it, and you should expect to be challenged.
5. Seek Mediation
If you find it challenging to resolve the issue on your own, consider involving a neutral third party, such as a more senior manager or HR representative, to mediate the situation.
Again, evidence of dates, times, emails, texts, witnesses, etc., is vital if you decide to take things further. I recommend keeping a diary or file notes of incidents. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Without solid evidence, there’s little that can be done formally.
6. Maintain Professionalism
Regardless of the situation, continue to perform your job to the best of your ability and maintain professionalism at all times.
7. Focus on Self-Improvement
As much as possible, channel your energy into professional growth and skill enhancement. Unfortunately, this type of bullying (which is what this is) can take its toll on your mental and physical health and well-being.
Concentrating on yourself and what you can do is important to boost your confidence and marketability.
Navigating workplace dynamics can be complex, and the possibility of being sabotaged by a boss or co-worker is a challenging reality for some individuals.
While it is essential to be aware of potential signs of sabotage, it is equally important not to jump to conclusions without substantial evidence.
On another note, I’ve occasionally worked with clients who believed they were being bullied. However, when we dug deeply enough, looking for the evidence, they had to agree they were actually being managed appropriately but in a different way from what they were used to.
Subconsciously, they didn’t like it, and as a result, they perceived perfectly acceptable ‘management’ as bullying.
Of course, that’s not always the case, and I always say to listen to your intuition. However, it’s important to note that we can sometimes see things not as they are but as WE are.
I’ve written extensively about bullying and narcissism in the workplace. To read more articles on this topic, click here.
If you would like help or support in managing work-based conflict, bullying or an other issue, please get in touch with me at email@example.com for a complimentary 15-minute discovery call.
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As always, thank you for your continued support.