WHAT DO YOU DO?
WHEN COLLEAGUES TRY TO DISCREDIT AND SABOTAGE YOU

Anthony T. Eaton, September 2017


Leadership is not for everyone, and while it can be very rewarding, it is not

immune from the same kinds of challenges every employee can face in the

workplace. This is never truer when you take on a role in the midst of organizational change where your peers have been around for some years. When you add to the mix of newness and a vision that is significantly different from the status quo, resistance, resentment and an array of emotions and reactions can result.

Having experienced this in my own career I recently posted the question: What do you do, when colleagues try to discredit and sabotage you? Here are a few of the responses I received.


Find a new circle. That doesn't mean disband them from your life (not that you could because you work with them), but find people who want to make you a better person, not bring you down.

Kamal Abdelrahman, Research Facilitator 


Mobbing is a result of bullying. In my experience, bullying came from someone In a higher position. When I refused to allow the bullying to persist, went to HR and reported it, that's when it went to another level. The bully became infuriated, and it became a game of tug of war to see who would believe them, and not me. Regardless of the ignorance, I still maintained my professionalism, integrity, and morals and treated everyone the same, even the bully. Lucky for me, those in position above the bully saw my diligence and refusal to participate in foolishness, and the bully was removed from the department. At this point, everyone started to come forward with the truth. My advice is to stand your ground, but maintain your values. Most of the time, people are looking for a reason to validate the rumors, don't give them one.

Arnette L. Professional Development Manager


Unfortunately, I have had personal experience here. You keep your head high, continue to do what is right....never respond with anything but professionalism. In other words, you take the high road. The truth normally comes out in the end.

Tammy Braun, Executive - Driving Performance with Passion, Persistence, and Grit


And there were more, like the response that proceeded Arnette's differentiating bullying from mobbing. This made me think about how one individual can influence others who would normally not partake in such behaviors but feel empowered when they can stand behind someone else.


Through my experience as a leader and an individual contributor, I have realized that often this behavior exists and continues because no one has ever stood up to it and declared it unacceptable. The failure to do that sends the message that the behavior is ok and as a result, it is enforced and continues. 


Understanding how and why the behavior exists is one thing, being able to address and confront it in a way that is not engaging or damaging to your career is another. It takes thought and insight not only about the other individual but about yourself and what the behavior triggers in your reaction.


It is key to recognize how you feel as a result of your interactions and why you feel that way. What is the outward expression of the emotion you have, anxiety, anger, tears? What kind of techniques can you employ to minimize or eliminate those reactions? As hard as it may be, you must always remember that it is really about the other person and not about you. Let it be a reflection on them. 


Once you have an understanding of how and why you react the way you do, you can begin to think about what you can do about the behavior. Do not become part of the problem, be the solution. In many cases what is being said or done can be disproven or countered with facts. Solid results and data cannot be disputed, and you cannot be discredited when results and facts say otherwise.


With any response, you must maintain an outward calmness no matter what you are feeling inside. One of the things that feed negative behavior is the knowledge that it works. When you remove that you diminish its power over you and the power of the other person. Seek guidance from someone with nothing to gain or lose who will give you an honest perspective.


If these things fail to yield results turn to upper management and Human Resources but keep in mind, even that may not resolve things. You may have to ultimately decide if you can weather things and if you are in the right place. If you have given it your best shot, taken the higher road when possible, addressed the issue head-on and things don't change you may have to move on. Regardless, look for the lesson in what has occurred because there always is one.