None of us enter a career expecting to encounter our own personal work nemesis. In fact, some people are fortunate enough to avoid going head-to-head with an archenemy for their entire career. Unfortunately, many of us will, at one point or another, find ourselves toe-to-toe with a real life Lex Luthor. Therefore, it is vital to have some guidelines to follow so you can better avoid frustration and ultimately come out on top.
The advice below is derived from a personal experience in which I encountered an individual that was beyond disagreeable. This person joined our organization, and for whatever reason, absolutely despised me and everything I had worked to accomplish. The ordeal slowly chipped away at my patience and caused a remarkable amount of stress, but in the end, my nemesis tested me and made me into a better person. I hope that my small chunks of wisdom will also help you one day if you somehow end up facing similar circumstances.
Know Thy Enemy
Sun Tzu’s advice remains sound to this very day. It is important to fully understand your adversary. I am not advocating wire tapping or using spies to learn about your nemesis, but rather, suggesting that you do everything you can to communicate with them and understand where things are going wrong.
More often than not, their hatred of you stems from a simple misunderstanding, and the earlier you resolve the conflict, the more likely it is that you will be able to turn your greatest enemy into an ally.
When you first speak with this person it is also vital to remain calm, keep an open mind, and question your own actions. Honest discourse and open dialogue might be sufficient to cease hostilities and move forward.
In those few, rare cases where your rival illogically hates you and everything that you are, it is still important to try and speak with them so you know how their mind works. At the very least, you can test the waters and find out what mediums and methods of communication will be the least inflammatory moving forward.
Gandhi And The High Road
When dealing with people that simply hate you for no good reason, it is often most effective to maintain your calm and allow them to make a fool of themselves. Take the high road.
If your rival is gossiping behind your back, speak with colleagues about whatever gossip they have conjured up and provide full disclosure on the situation. Make yourself infinitely available and build a reputation for transparency. After a period of time, rumors will fade and people will completely ignore your nemesis.
If they falsely accuse you of actions during a staff meeting, thank them for their feedback, ask them to clarify their meaning or provide evidence. Remain calm and firm. Their attacks will only decrease their credibility. Your openness to feedback and focus on improving the organization will help to further enhance your reputation.
No matter how vicious their attacks become, remain calm, confident, and refuse to stoop their level.
Success Is The Best Revenge
When nothing else seems to be working, simply ignore your enemy’s attacks and strike back in the most diabolical way imaginable: succeed! Nothing can complement you and your values more than succeeding in the face of so much adversity.
Focus on your job, maintain positive relationships with your peers and supervisors, and perform to the best of your ability. When you exceed everybody’s expectations, your image will be enhanced dramatically and your nemesis will wither into nothing as they waste time on meaningless mud-slinging campaigns.
The Big Picture
If your rival has somehow successfully manipulated the staff and swung public opinion in their favor, move on! Nobody is forcing you to work with these people! You can easily find a less hostile work environment to work in. While you were working in purgatory and taking the high road, odds are that you have built a stellar reputation with your business partners and other professionals in the community at large.
Change jobs, or better yet, take steps to found your own company and become an entrepreneur. You ultimately control your destiny. Be strong, hold true to your values, and the world will be yours for the taking.
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