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Ask Abbie: Employee sabotaged by deceitful co-worker

Published 12:16pm Saturday, April 20, 2013

Question: I work in retail and just found out one of my co-workers as been trying to sabotage me. My supervisor asked me how I would feel about getting a promotion even if it meant more hours. I couldn’t figure out why that would even be a question so I asked. She told me my co-worker said I wanted to spend more time with my family and since a promotion would mean more hours away from home I wouldn’t be interested. My co-worker twisted the truth so badly either out of spite or so she could get the hours for herself. I still have to work with her but I don’t know how. What do you suggest?

Betrayed co-worker

Answer: First. Adjust your expectations not only of your conniving co-worker but also of your supervisor. Your co-worker obviously will use whatever it takes to receive personal gain and will do so at your expense; your supervisor is either not the best communicator since she took what your co-worker said about you as the truth without first asking you to validate her input or she for some reason favors your co-worker over you. Using these facts, as well as the knowledge that you cannot change your co-worker or your supervisor, adjust your expectations of the two accordingly so you won’t be disappointed or frustrated and then resort to hostility.

Second. Choose the way you want to be perceived and then act the part. Do you want to be seen by your friends, family, customers and other co-workers as negative, easily angered and unhappy, or as positive, peaceful and happy? The decision is yours but if you want to defeat your opponents you should choose the positive option even if your insides are screaming negative. Persevere with an outward display of positivity and I promise one day any internal feelings of negativity will give way and you will enjoy lasting peace. Be warned, this development may take time especially if you are trying to change a way you have operated for a long time. Should you need motivation to keep your spirit positive throughout this process think about your customers. They will naturally be more attracted to a positive caring salesperson than to one who complains and is more concerned about herself than with others. When your deceitful co-worker sees you getting more business than she you will have said more non-verbally than you ever could have with words alone.

Third. Develop a plan for where you want your career to be in five years. Make sure every employment decision you make advances you closer to that goal and does not keep you stagnant or retreat you away. Focusing on the future also helps you see your less than optimal current situation as a stepping stone on the way to reaching your final destination rather than as a dead-end with no way out.

Fourth. Commit to remaining calm and confident no matter the circumstances that surround you. Help yourself by refusing to be drawn into any useless argument. Arguments are simply opportunities for destructive emotions to overtake healthy ones; things are often said that shouldn’t be and displays of aggressive behavior arise and lead to hurt. In addition, practice speaking positive words of affirmation to yourself about all that surrounds you. You will become less likely to fall victim to any potentially destructive circumstance as your confidence becomes unshakable and your spirit unmovable.

The difficult times in our lives are tests and you are in the middle of one. These tests, from smallest to largest, are placed between us and our long-term goals and must each be passed before we can advance to the next. The purpose of this system is to prepare us for the future so we do not encounter any difficulty we cannot handle for this would disallow us from achieving our goals. Adjust your expectations, choose to remain positively calm at all times, and keep your eyes set upon a bright future for yourself. By doing so you will not only pass your current test with flying colors but also enable yourself to graduate ahead of the competition.

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