Today's Thought: “When you talk, you are only repeating something you know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” -Dalai Lama

How to deal with people who undermine you at work?

How to deal with people who undermine you at work
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We are all under constant scrutiny. People are always going to judge and ridicule what they don’t understand or if they feel threatened in any way. We are no strangers to people who wish to undermine us. In school and colleges, we called them bullies. As grown-ups, we no longer categorize them. We just say they are mean or feel like we have to prove ourselves to them.

In the work-place, we can’t really stand up to such people because they might be our Boss or an esteemed colleague. But we have to realize, things haven’t changed that much. People who undermine us, are usually suffering from an inferiority complex themselves. Remember what they said when someone bullied us in school, “They only undermine you because they want to feel good about themselves.” That is still true. These people see our potential and are afraid that we might get ahead of them.  

Here are a few ways people try to undermine us:

  • Publicly pointing out an innocent mistake just to bring it to the attention of your colleagues and supervisors.
  • Bad-mouthing you so that people distrust you and don’t include you in important information.
  • Competing with you and trying to demoralize you in front of your supervisor.
  • Spreading rumors or para-phrasing an innocent conversation to make it sound distasteful or incriminating.
  • Lying about important deadlines and information so you mess up.

But we have to remember, these people actually know we are good at something that they are not. They feel the need to pull us down because they can’t beat us fair and square. Standing up to them may not always be an option but we have to remember not to lose our self-confidence and self-esteem when they play dirty.

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I’ve personally experienced this when an ex-colleague tried to undermine my indirect actions that were irrelevant to my work because my boss was quite pleased with me and was talking about a better position for me.
I realized that this person was simply terrified that I was going to get what he coveted and was lashing out. Since it was a public banter, I did not have to report him.
I simply told my boss that the negativity in the environment wasn’t good for me and I stepped away. I had been planning to quit for a while but didn’t have the heart to disappoint my boss as he said he really needed me there. But this incidence gave me an opening.

You may not have the option of walking away from a job you love or really need but here are some things you can do:

  • Report them to your supervisor if there have been similar incidents
  • Reply to them with a smile to let them know they were not able to get under your skin
  • Continue your work as you would so they can see they don’t hold power over you
  • Let them know in subtle ways that you do not feel threatened by their words or actions.
  • Try to understand what is driving this behavior in them and try to help them overcome it.

Standing up to a bully is always difficult. But remember, self-esteem is the only thing that protects us from such people. Stand up tall and remember you are worth much more than what others see.


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5 months ago

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