You even know who they are.
You didn’t want to believe it, so you’ve made up excuses for how rumors swirled, letters got misplaced, and situations you had calmed down suddenly fired up again.
Someone is mad at you, possibly blames you for a stalled career, or maybe their home life sucks and you’re a good target. Whatever it is, you are not imagining this.
You might need to look like you don’t know what’s going on, but don’t fool yourself. You have a target on your back and someone is gunning for you.
Here’s your battle plan.
- Remain calm. This will be seriously irritating to whoever wants you agitated. Think carefully about how you sound when you’re being the business version of you. Practice producing this tone of voice no matter what else is going on. When your co-workers are devolving into juvenile delinquents, you will still look and sound adult. This is important. Who do you want to believe? The guy screaming like a howler monkey denied sex and bananas or the adult who’s calmly describing the situation? Your boss doesn’t like rabid monkeys either.
- Recruit allies. These do not all have to be in the workplace. You need some allies that are outside of the situation and can give you an alternative viewpoint. Having friends and allies can make the miserable creatures most likely to target you think twice. Loners are easy to pick off and have no one to hand out repercussions later. People with friends come with built in possibilities for extended reach and negative consequences to anyone hurting them.
- Document everything you can. Now is not the time to take it easy. The more you document, play by the rules, and then document some more, the more difficult it will be to bring you down. Co-workers on the attack will look for something you’ve done that falls outside of the rules. Never mind if everyone does it and they’ve been doing it that way since the company was founded. If you don’t have written permission for it, expect to have it thrown at you in some nasty way. If you need to break the rules, get someone higher up the chain to sign off on it or forget it. Don’t waste your time documenting other people or trying to bring your attacker down. You’ll look like a jr high girl in a cat fight if you do. Take care of you, take care of your allies, make sure your actions are positive for the work place.
- Make an escape plan. Do you have some money saved up? Do you know what you’d do if your job ended tomorrow? No? Get busy. Having vindictive co-workers is one way to be reminded that we all need a back up plan. Living paycheck to paycheck will put you in a desperate place. You are more likely to take other people’s crap and be sending out signals that scream, “Potential Victim! Please Target Me!” When you know you could walk and be perfectly OK, your backbone will magically harden and your skin will grow teflon like qualities.
- Deal calmly and directly with your attacker, do not fight them. No screaming, no yelling, no sarcasm. There is no faster way to make your enemy look like an escaped mental patient than to remain calm as they get louder and more outrageous. Your boss may not care who’s right, who’s better for the company, or who’s working the hardest. The boss WILL care about who’s easiest to deal with. Let your behavior be non-defensive, goal directed, and calm. You will be amazed at the stuff you get away with saying when you say it calmly while smiling.
Most of all, trust yourself. I see way too many people in my office who didn’t trust their gut feelings until it was too late. At the very least, check your bad feelings with someone you trust. If you’re wrong and you’ve done the five actions listed here, no harm done. You’ll look better on the job and have allies who will prove useful later. If you’re right and you take these five actions, you will either save your job or have a better option to move to.
Photo by; Adam Cohn, flckr creative commons.