Play nice with vicious co-worker

Q: I’m so furious at my colleague who threw me under the bus in front of my entire team. We have to present together to our client next week. How can I work with him when all I want to do is drive over him?

A: Sacrificing a colleague is a cheap temporary solution when the bus is heading directly for him. A convenient scapegoat deflects attention from their mistakes. Running scared creates reactive, short sighted and hurtful actions.

Retaliating may feel better in the short term, but a pedestrian rarely wins when he goes head to head with a bus. It just creates more carnage.

Instead, retreat and nurse your ego until your emotions are no longer clouding your judgment. Replay the situation and identify what you can take responsibility for in the situation.

There is always something. What did you do or not do that allowed you to be cast in a bad light? Find some truth – even if it is only two per cent – in the person’s accusation. As painful as this may be, the self reflection can be a catalyst for huge learning.

Now you have found a starting point to clear the air between you. Take the leader role and book a meeting with your colleague. Open with stepping up and owning your part in the unintended impact. Share what you learned from the situation and what steps you will take to avoid a recurrence. Request his assistance and support.  This can create an opening for your colleague to take responsibility for their actions.  Discuss how you could both work together next time in a way that respects both of your needs.

The bystanders are still watching to see if the runaway bus could take them out, too. Your responsiveness can reinstate the team’s trust and confidence in you and your leadership.

Originally published in The Province, Nov. 18, 2012.


One Response to “Play nice with vicious co-worker”

  1. Ted Cutlan on January 7th, 2013 4:58 pm

    Vicious co-worker aka VC.

    I agree with the self evaluation process in the event that the person tossed under the wheels is at fault. Never miss an opportunity to improve. I have been in situations, however, where the V.C made up bald faced lies for self aggrandizement and make others who had truthful input look stupid. This person poisoned the well for a number of team players who left the company. You should have advised the writer to be very wary of this individual in future even if
    fences could be mended prevent a rift in the team. Observe their behaviours as they will be have their radar on for your weaknesses and capitalizing on them to their benefit. People who behave like this often mark high on sociopath screening. Thanks.

Got something to say?