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Incompetent, credit-grabbing suck-up paints me as a troublemaker

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  "After joining a start-up company with only four employees, I developed a very bad relationship with one of them.  This woman is incompetent and tries to steal other people’s ideas. She tells new employees about our past conflicts in order to turn them against me. She also sucks up to our manager by always being very agreeable with him. Whenever we have an argument, she plays the victim and cries in his office. Because he believes her, I’m now seen as the troublemaker on the team.  How do I put a stop to her manipulative behavior?"  —Treated Unfairly

Answer: Your nemesis may be a credit-grabbing suck-up, but right now her job is a lot safer than yours. Start-up companies are too small and vulnerable to tolerate much dissension. Anyone who is not considered part of the team will soon be on the outside.  

Trying to bring her down will not help to lift you up. So instead of wasting energy on hatred and retaliation, start working to improve your own reputation.  

First, take a long, hard look in the mirror. You can easily see your adversary’s negative traits, but what about your own? Would co-workers describe you as helpful, pleasant, and cooperative?  If not, figure out what you need to do differently.

Next, you must mentally call a truce with this woman. Even if you hate her guts, your own success depends on improving this relationship. Take the first step by sincerely resolving to put the past behind you, then asking if she will do the same.  

Finally, swallow your pride and ask your manager how you can improve. Listen to his answer without arguing or complaining. Then try to be the kind of team player that this company needs.  

The bottom line is that you can’t change other people. You can only change yourself. But sometimes, when you adjust your own attitudes and behaviors, you find that others eventually respond in kind.

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