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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

The Secrets to Handling Your Worst Work Enemy

I’m a big believer that what you do for a living brings you to work and who you work with makes it all worthwhile. That’s why it’s such a huge pain when someone in your office not only refuses to be a team player, but also seems committed to being combatant.

She says “no” to every idea you pitch. She refuses to acknowledge anyone’s effort but her own. She even rags on your lunch choices. I mean, seriously?!

Unfortunately, this isn’t first grade (though that co-worker may be acting like it is), so you can’t fuss with some higher-up to make her play nice. You’re an adult and a professional, so it’s up to you to have a strategy for changing the tone of the relationship.

In this 15-minute podcast, Brian Uzzi, a professor of leadership at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, outlines his recommended approach to dealing with “work enemies” head-on. It boils down to the 3 Rs: redirecting their emotion away from you, offering reciprocity to reduce a point of tension, no strings attached, and using rationality to establish new terms.

Go ahead, restore your serenity now (my own fourth R). Slip on your headphones to check out the podcast below, then read Uzzi’s argument at the Harvard Business Review.

Photo of fighting toys courtesy of PAISAN HOMHUAN / Shutterstock.