Do you have a work friend or colleague who seems all friendly and helpful on the outside, but causes you trouble whenever possible? Chances are, you have a frenemy at work.
Before we get into how to deal with frenemies at work, let’s understand who is a frenemy. This is someone who works with you, acts as a friend on multiple occasions, but also does not think twice before stabbing you in the back.
Dealing with frenemies at work can be tricky business. You also want to be professional with your actions, so you can protect your work and career. As well, you want to take care of your own state of mind, to remain calm and healthy.
To solve issues with frenemies, today I’d like to share with you five steps to make your work life easier and effectively deal with frenemies, without causing any more trouble for yourself.
First step – don’t mix Professional and Personal Friends and Colleagues
Sometimes, it might be easier not to mix our personal and professional lives. In that world, maybe there would be no frenemies. Maybe it would keep work more simple.
Yet when you start spending time with a group of people, friendships are bound to form naturally. After all, every one of us is human, and we are naturally very social creatures.
If your work situation has a risk of frenemies, do your best to keep your personal and professional life as separate and distinct as possible. When you do that, you limit the information that your frenemy has, and the damage that they can do.
It’s not easy to keep your personal and professional life separate, but it can have several benefits. Because if your frenemies know details about your personal life, chances are, they will use that information to harm you at some point in time.
second step – Practice Your Awareness of all Your Relationships
So here’s the thing about frenemies. They might be playing a sophisticated chess game, while you aren’t even aware a game is in progress. However, what might actually be helpful for you is to be more visible with other people at work.
Be a part of all the meetings, informal discussions, and the grapevine communication network. This way, everyone can see the good work you are doing. And you can keep an open eye on the actions of your workplace frenemy.
Having healthy relationships with as many colleagues as possible at work is your best defense. This is the best way to make sure you have access to what is being said about you.
And if what is being said to you directly is the same as when you’re not around, you have nothing to worry about. It never hurts to nurture all your relationships at work. This will not only benefit your current work situation but also your future career.
third step – Maintain a Professional Image and Be a Good Workplace Ambassador
The hidden talent of your frenemies at work includes spreading misinformation about you and your work. How can you protect yourself? If you keep yourself visible in the good work you do, and you have good relationships with lots of colleagues, you have the best defense.
Finished some work all by yourself? Share it over an email or group chat, and invite engagement. Because if you never speak up or share about what you’re doing, people will never know anything about your work. This gives your enemies a greater scope of causing trouble. So be an ambassador for your own good work.
Be proactive and chat with your colleagues informally on a regular basis. How much exactly this will be, depends on the size and type of your workplace. By maintaining a good workplace image, you can stop others from hogging undue credit, and prevent them from blaming you for something that was their fault. In general, you set the record straight about the work you are doing, in a proactive way.
Still, facing issues with your frenemies? Don’t discuss this at work, because it could quickly get you fired. Remember, frenemies are ruthless chess masters, so sometimes you might need an advisor for such situations. If you have an issue, discuss it only at home with a professional coach or mentor, so you can proceed in a safe way.
fourth step – Keep Actions Around Your Career in Moderation (Boundaries)
Do you want to complain about the cons of your job? Do that only at home, and in moderation. Do you want to socialize and have fun with your colleagues at work? Yes, engage with people, and also do it in moderation. Because in your work and professional life, drawing boundaries for yourself is necessary.
Having good boundaries sends a subtle message to people: you are a professional, here to do a good job. You respect other people, and you respect your work. Then, most people will thus respect you as well.
Good boundaries help you to avoid engaging in unhelpful actions. It keeps you from talking too much and saying things to your frenemies which can later be used against you. Remember, the main focus of work is work, so get the work done, and enjoy some professional social life with everyone in moderation.
Chit-chat, socialize, take breaks, and help people around you with a sense of balance. This way you can protect your sanity and your peace at work, to make sure your frenemies do not have any possibility of bringing you down.
Having a Big Frenemy Problem at Work or In Your Career?
Workplace situations with frenemies can be very challenging. Some companies are even full of frenemies, like a shark tank.
You may need some help navigating these situations, so trust yourself to reach out. What often helps is to have a neutral advisor or mentor: a guide outside of work who can give you professional advice and a clear action plan. In this way, you can solve any challenge in your situation or career at the workplace, with professional grace and dignity.
So read this article one more time. And stay proactive. Because a little defense goes a long way.
It turns out that high school hallways aren’t the only places mean girls exist. Twenty seven percent of American workers report being bullied at some point in their career, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), and women are the biggest offenders.
The WBI report found that women bullied other women 68 percent of the time; sometimes the bullying came in the form of outright harassment, but other times it was more subtle. Many of you have experienced working with people who claim to be your friend, but then turn around and make belittling comments or roll their eyes at you in front of fellow colleagues.
This type of relationship can undermine your productivity, reputation and mood at work. Here are four tips from etiquette expert Jodi R.R. Smith., author of The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners, that will help you deal with a workplace ‘frenemy’ so they don’t succeed in sabotaging you.
1. Know your frenemy
It’s to your advantage to identify your frenemies and be wary of their motives — all while remaining professional on your own terms.
“Once you know what type of person your colleague is, you can take action as appropriate,” Smith says. “Know what you can expect from them, when you can rely on them and when you should not.”
Even if you’re wary of this ‘friend,’ don’t completely ignore her. Knowing her moves and motives can keep you one step ahead.
2. Create boundaries
Remember that work is just that. work. When possible keep personal issues out of the workplace, even if your colleagues don’t reciprocate. In other words, try not to stoop to their level. “Take the high road and don’t lose focus on your own hard work,” Smith advises.
3. Be honest when necessary
Playing the diplomat isn’t always possible, especially if a frenemy clearly crosses a workplace line. Feelings of tension can also hinder productivity for both parties, so it can be helpful to clear the air.
“On occasion, a frank conversation can aid your relationship,” Smith says. “It’s OK to say, ‘We’re never going to be best friends, but I respect your work and hope that when we’re on the same team we work past our differences to get the job done.'”
4. Know when to walk away
Savvy workers know how to balance the good and bad of the workplace environment to their advantage, but even the thickest-skinned have a limit.
It’s a given that there’s always going to be someone you don’t like at work. “However, when there are many office frenemies, there’s only so much emotional stress you can take before it’s time to dust off the resume and look for a healthier work environment,” Smith suggests.
So when it comes to workplace matters, keep your friends close but your frenemies closer. It will keep your competitive drive sharp and your focus on the work at hand.