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How to Deal with an Officemate Out to Sabotage You September 12, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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If you have been the unlucky recipient of someone’s bad vibes, brace yourself.  Depending on how bad that person has it in for you, you might have to rely on your common sense and survival skills just to shield yourself from an attack.  Here are ways you can deal with an officemate who has made it his life’s purpose to sabotage you:

Know thy enemy.
You’ll never be able to win against a sabotaging officemate if you don’t know who they are, what their role is in your department and your company, who their cohorts are and why they are working against you. 

Find out why they are making you the target of their attacks.  Was it something you said or did?  Or is your presence the indirect cause of what they perceive to be as their problem?  If, for example, you got the promotion and Bob did not, the reason why he’s trying to sabotage you should be clear to you by now. 

Know what your sabotaging officemate’s motives are and you’ll understand why you are being attacked.  The motives behind the unsavory acts or remarks will also help you design the right counter-measures, should it become necessary.

Learn who to trust.
Most saboteurs don’t work alone.  They could have spies working for them, gathering information from you without your knowledge.  If someone is out to get you, be careful about how you do your job or interact with your officemates, bosses or clients.

Keep your private stuff guarded.
One of the easiest ways to find your weaknesses is to sniff around your desk.  Keep important documents, reports, presentations, modules, notes, even scribbles and doodles from prying eyes and itchy hands.  Keep them with you or hide them under lock and key.

Use passwords to keep important files where they’re supposed to be.  If your computer is shared over a network, check which folders are open to others and whether or not they are critical to your job. 

When sending files through e-mail, be careful about attachments.  You might also want to delete logged messages on your Sent Mail folder to make sure it’s clear.  And yes, never share passwords with anybody, especially officemates you think may be sabotaging you.

Keep your big mouth shut.
A very common way an officemate can sabotage you is by using your own words to work against your favor.  A saboteur can turn a flippant remark or a harmless joke into an issue strong enough to be used against you.  Be careful about making comments regarding a company policy, a project, a task, a boss, a client or a fellow officemate.

Should you confront the saboteur?
That depends, although I do advocate pulling the weed off the soil as soon as it peeks out of the dirt.  Just make sure that when and if you do approach your sabotaging officemate about the issue, you have sufficient proof and support.  If the reason is flimsy, you’ll seem paranoid and over-reacting.

If you do confront them, do so privately and in a firm, businesslike manner.  Don’t raise your voice, become hysterical, gesture wildly or start throwing accusations.  Keep strictly to the issue at hand and avoid making it a personal attack.  Remember that you’re a professional and are quite capable of behaving as such.  Leave the hysterics to the other party.

Have enough proof to prove your innocence.
I have a friend, Jenna (not her real name), who was accused of using company funds by her officemate.  What was appalling about it was that the officemate was the one who actually spent the money.  Although he did eventually confess to the deed when confronted by their boss, he first had the nerve to ask that he and Jenna pay back the amount 50-50.  Good thing that Jenna had enough documentation to prove that she did not touch the money.

To keep your sabotaging officemate at bay, keep extra copies of important documents.  (Just make sure it’s legal to do so.)  These documents should be enough evidence that you are not who your saboteur accuses you to be.

Look for support.
If the attacks are becoming harsh, physically threatening or more difficult to handle, don’t hesitate about asking for help.  There are times when you can’t really do it on your own.  A good source of support would be your supervisor or manager, people in your department, a trusted and respected colleague or a supportive client. 

A caveat, though: if the issue can be kept between you and the saboteur, then there’s no need for it to spill over to management or other departments.  Don’t cry ‘Uncle’ at the slightest provocation.  Try to handle the issue yourself first before you go to an authority figure.

When facing an officemate out to sabotage you, keep your cool, know your facts and stick to the issue.  It’s a jungle out there, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

What’s your story?

Has an officemate ever tried to sabotage you?  How did you fight back?  Share your story here.

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Comments»

1. What Should I Do? - November 1, 2009

Well my thing is I’m on probation for 3 months before they make a decision to hire me. Unfortunately, the person who was part of a vendetta against me at a previous company is at this new company. I’ve only been there a month and she has spread rumors and has everyone making snide remarks towards me about personal issues only she knows about because we used to be friends. A few of the girsl are actually sabotaging my work (3 incidents so far including one yesterday). I don’t want to go to the supervisor whom I suspect has a part in it with my coworker. I don’t want to go to our manager and appear as a paranoid nut and have him decide not to hire me. I don’t want to confront these people until after I know I have a permanent position but I can’t ignore it for 2 more months or should I? I was homeless and just got back on my feet and have two children to care for so I’m stuck. My reasoning is to confront them after I get hired on permanently in a tactful way. I would like to be civil with them so we can work together but at the same time….ewww!

2. J - November 18, 2009

Honestly I would keep looking for a better job with good people, because even if you stay in a good position to increase skills or reputation, their tactics will still be in place long after you’re gone.
For example they will not give you the best reference, or stand by any of your achievements.

The other alternative is to confron them in a bold manner with the courage of a lion and stand your ground – you’ve nothing to lose they are not with a good spirit inside them and they will back down. But will they change longterm – it’s pretty unlikely and not worth the effort and pain of working with them. Start looking for another job get an amazing one and leave with your head held high.

3. J - November 18, 2009

One more thing my dear:) You deserve a great job – don’t let being homeless and the worry of feeding your kids knock your confidence about getting another position, even though that will be really hard at times.

Just keep looking until you find another job and then leave. I am sure everything will work out for you I can tell you are a great person!
Keep affirming to yourself that everything is going fine and it will all work out eventually. Even if you need to take a lesser job like a cleaning job for a little while, until you find something better – at least it would be in peace and give you some space to look for what you want and good people to work with.

4. ashley - December 2, 2009

mine is different i think my newly hired bitch manager was the one who stole my thick file, someone told me that they saw my file in her room, but when i checked it was gone

5. Anonymous - December 9, 2009

bring a video camera in, record them being a jerk, confront the managment (keep the recordings clandestine), if you get sacked reveal the recordings as evidence, if you are still sacked put the recordings on the web and mail the url to a customers and suppliers.

6. Anonymous - December 13, 2009

Develop a network of people who like you and respect you. You don’t deserve this BS.

7. gary - February 10, 2010

If u have any trouble at work just bring a mobile phone in that can record video and audio and get evidence. (Clandestine)

Then demand compensation payments, say to your manager “I am skitzo, there are messages for me in the movies, the messages tell me what to do [orders by the voices in me head], I’ve just been watching The china syndrome!”

Don’t reveal what you’ve got, play a funny game of poker.

Gary

8. Anonymous - March 23, 2010

recently, a co-worker snubbed my conversational question in front of my subordinates. iwas just asking that udnerling of mine what they meant by the word somebody died and i asked who died. but he never bothered to answer me. i repeated the question who is dead? he sitll ignored my question and did nto answer me. i was simply humiliated in front of my underlings. what i did was i held on to my control and stopped talking to him altogether and gave him cold shoulder. then during lunch time, i told our supervisor if he could talk to that underling and ask him to apologize to me for his rudeness. the boss said he would try to talk to him.

that afternoon, i met the udnerling on the hallway and i told him that he owes me an apology. he readily apologized. i forgave him.

but a lot of persons got hurt and issues surfaced and resurfaced in the process. just because he did that apologized for disrespect towards me. people got polarized and entangled.

i wish he had not done it. it could have saved a lot of people form trouble.

9. Anonymous - August 25, 2010

i had a boss he was a nob, we went on a buisness trip, so i paid a call girl to get him drunk and keep him up all night getting pissed, without any intimicy or sex, next morning sleeping pills in the coffee.

10. Pissed off - December 8, 2010

A co-worker has put nails in my tires, caused me to get a random UA , and this past year caused me a lot of errors. No one believes me and I have no proof or it was to late by the time i said something. What can i do?

11. Anonymous - December 18, 2011

I like your comments

dapinoyemployee - May 24, 2012

Thanks!

dapinoyemployee - May 24, 2012

How stressful it must be to have someone like that hovering on your horizon on each workday. If your suspicions are correct, get proof or some evidence that will show you are being sabotaged. If not, try to find if the error lies elsewhere. Good luck!

12. theuglyduckling - June 13, 2012

You know, I’ve just begun coaching. Always quite wise, it comes naturally to me. But I am currently in a situation that I have run out of ways to handle.

I know who they are.
I send my work home so I can prove myself.
After two months, I finally sat with the CEO (we don’t have a HR department) and my proof is not enough because he can’t see the motive.
I felt like saying “That’s the whole point, boss. The motive is clearly personal, and I am trying to prove that.” But I didn’t, of course.

I have been through this twice now. And you can either wait painfully until they undo themselves (which is hard, because even if they undo themselves and are much liked or they don’t show this attitude in public, they will think you’re just going crazy anyway) or, you look for ways to handle the stress (can be done, but it’s hard when a whole team is against you and is being lied to about you..) OR you just find a new job.

I hate negativity, again, I work with NLP, but this is an absolute joke, and if they have the popularity, the likeliness is that their actions get completely dismissed anyway.

13. theuglyduckling - June 13, 2012

You know… As a fellow coach, going through this myself at work, i say to just find a new job.
Ive been through it once before, and I am goin through it once again. It’s the place you spend most of your day and you do NOT want to be in this situation.

I am currently in a position where two people (my boss and his sidekick, another colleague of mine) have been teaming up to deliberately making me look bad. I share an inbox with his sidekick. My emails go missing, I find them in the trash, and our Skype chats get deleted. So
It’s hard for me to prove anything.

I had sat with the CEO yesterday who favors this mongrel, and the proof that I DID have, was dismissed just because HE could not see a motive. …That’s the whole point to it fella :/ Lol!

Once they hav it in for you and are able to influence others to also have it in for you, it doesn’t matter what you try, it will be wrong in their eyes. Everything I say is dismissed though absolutely adored if someone else brings it up. Everything I do is gossiped about and ridiculed and I don’t get invites to team bonding events, so I can’t even try to talk to anyone else as I am instantly dismissed for no apparent reason.

The stress is continuous, and yes, you can shout all the love you like, and try every different tactic that you can, but it takes two to tango at the end of the day and if there’s more than one especially, with no one willing to sort it out, you are talking to a brick wall and the stress will amount day by day, placing you in a position of where your confidence will be depleted, and your personality constantly underestimated by closed minded individuals.

Just get the hell outta there…

14. theuglyduckling - June 13, 2012

You know… As a fellow coach, going through this myself at work, i say to just find a new job.
Ive been through it once before, and I am goin through it once again. It’s the place you spend most of your day and you do NOT want to be in this situation.

I am currently in a position where two people (my boss and his sidekick, another colleague of mine) have been teaming up to deliberately make me look bad. I share an inbox with his sidekick. My emails go missing, I find them in the trash, and our Skype chats get deleted. So
It’s hard for me to prove anything.

I had sat with the CEO yesterday who favors this mongrel, and the proof that I DID have, was dismissed just because HE could not see a motive. …That’s the whole point to it fella :/ Lol!

Once they hav it in for you and are able to influence others to also have it in for you, it doesn’t matter what you try, it will be wrong in their eyes. Everything I say is dismissed though absolutely adored if someone else brings it up. Everything I do is gossiped about and ridiculed and I don’t get invites to team bonding events, so I can’t even try to talk to anyone else as I am instantly dismissed for no apparent reason.

The stress is continuous, and yes, you can shout all the love you like, and try every different tactic that you can, but it takes two to tango at the end of the day and if there’s more than one especially, with no one willing to sort it out, you are talking to a brick wall and the stress will amount day by day, placing you in a position of where your confidence will be depleted, and your personality constantly underestimated by closed minded individuals.

Just get the hell outta there…

15. theuglyduckling - June 13, 2012

Gosh. I just re read n comment. Can you tell I’ve just woken up!? Hahahaha! So badly articulated!! (Sorry!)

16. Anonymous - December 1, 2012

what if it is your employee trying to sabatoge you as a new boss

17. Anonymous - March 14, 2013

cointelpro?

dapinoyemployee - December 25, 2013

You are still the boss. You have access to more information and tools than your employee. You do, however, need to be able to show proof or evidence of an impending act of sabotage in case you want to discuss the situation with the employee or take it to management.


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