Fighting Sabotage part 2

Geek 5, Org savvy

In this post, we’ll continue with an overview of Survival of the Savvy by Brandon and Seldman.  As we discussed previously, there are many different types of corporate sabotage, and all of them can impact your effectiveness and potentially derail your career.  Now we’ve identified the problem, so what’s the solution?

The first thing to do is be aware that sabotage exists and keep your eyes open for it.  Refer to the previous post for a reminder about what it can look like.

Some additional things will help you put up a defense, so you are less vulnerable to sabotage.

One of those is to be careful about favors.  If someone asks you do do something questionable or to speak for them on a controversial issue, realize that they are intentionally or perhaps unintentionally trying to manipulate you. Sometimes a co-worker will put you into a position to make a risky suggestion or take an unpopular stance.  Once you speak up and get negative attention, he or she backs off and leaves you hanging. 

I had a personal failure in this area in the past.   A  co-worker got me all riled up about an issue.  I was new to the company and did not realize it was a sensitive topic.  I spoke up with great passion about the issue in a meeting with peers and the boss and predictably got struck down quickly.  He stayed clear of the whole issue after manipulating me in to doing his dirty work.  I was under-political and did not recognize the risk.  Now I’m much more careful about what I say and how I say it.  I always make sure that I am representing my own thoughts and not those of someone else.

Another strategy is to stall for time.  If you sense more going on than someone is saying, don’t commit to anything.  Say that you need some time to think about an idea or request and to check your schedule, before you can give a response.  Stalling buys you time to investigate the situation and find out if there is more going on and whether or not you want to get involved.

To fight back against sabotage, you must stop being a victim and an underdog – without becoming overly aggressive or offensive. Some ways to stop being a victim include:

  • Check your self-talk – keep your ego out of the conversation and make sure you don’t fall for taunting
  • Don’t apologize when you are not to blame – it positions you as subservient
  • Use appropriate humor to defuse a situation
  • Use active listening to take the wind out of someone’s anger. Listen carefully and repeat back what you hear. Sometimes the chance to vent can defuse the situation.
  • When facing an accusation, ask for specifics. Don’t accept an accusation of incompetence – ask for specific situations or behaviors that concern someone.
  • Give balanced responses
  • Play hardball when you need to, but do it thoughtfully. Make sure the battle is worth fighting and that you have a chance of winning.

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