Office politics: confront your enemies


Theresa May, if it’s any comfort, you’re not the only one dealing with office politics and fending off your enemies. Employees have to fight their corner, too.

Most employees, I guess, just want to get on with their work. Unfortunately, there’s other stuff to deal with. And the problem is that if you ignore it, it just gets worse.

There is always one

At work we have to interact with people. We have to get on with our colleagues. We have to find a way. Usually, we do. It’s not always easy but it’s work. There may be different mindsets, different opinions, different ways of doing things, different interests – but in the end we’re there to do a job. We have those we get on well with, we have those we get on OK with and we have others we’re not so sure about.

The problem comes when someone is out to get you.


In the line of fire

It could be taking credit where it’s not due. It could be trying to pinch your clients. It could be trying to trip you up. It could be saying bad things about you behind your back. It might even amount to bullying or harassment including ridiculing you, spreading malicious rumours about you,verbally abusing you or ignoring you.

I was on the receiving end of negative politics once. It concerned another lawyer. Shortly after he joined the firm the lawyer kept asking me for details about my clients. It started off with just a few questions. But soon I realised that I had to watch my back. Unfortunately, the questioning persisted, even though I kept giving the lawyer the cold shoulder.


Eyeball to eyeball

A common response is just to leave it be. Hopefully, the individual will get bored or find someone else to irritate. You may be lucky. So often though they won’t stop.

For many, confrontation is difficult. However, facing up to the person and directly quizzing them on their behaviour might well put the problem to bed.

After a while I confronted that lawyer. I called the person into a private area – and pointed out my concerns. The lawyer stormed out, but I was never asked again about my clients.


Of course it’s not always possible to confront your foes. If a boss, manager or senior member of staff is bullying you, it may not be easy to challenge them. In such circumstances you should report the matter to your HR department, and possibly raise a grievance. Also, sometimes even when you do confront, that won’t do the trick. Then you may also have to consider other options. There are outside organisations for advice, as well.

Office politics, especially manoeuvrings by colleagues, saps your energy.

Tackling problems head on could save you a few calories.

If you need any advice on issues at work including bullying or harassment please do contact 0203 7971264