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Watch your back with workplace saboteurs

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in Dealing with Bosses,Office Management

She steals credit for your work, blames you for something that you didn’t do or attempts to damage your reputation: the workplace saboteur.

Saboteurs are most apt to strike in a weak economy like the current one, business psychologist Wendy Alfus Rothman tells The Wall Street Journal.

“When the market is bad, there is real insecurity because there are fewer jobs and more people competing for them,” she says. “You have a pretty good recipe for potential backstabbing.”

What’s the best way to react?

Vicky Oliver, author of Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots, says that the first key is keeping your cool. Showing a temper “erodes your professionalism,” she says. Then:

Don’t confront the saboteur right away. First, “Look in the mirror,” she tells The Wall Street Journal, and carefully consider the unpleasant possibility that you’re the problem. If you’re unsure, consult with a trusted colleague.

Leave an e-mail trail. Put every idea, suggestion and accomplishment in an e-mail.

Talk to your boss in private, if you’re certain that you’re right. Ultimately, your boss’s opinion has the most impact on your career. Calmly tell your boss the truth, and ask for help in putting the gossip to rest.

If your boss is the saboteur, ask a trusted colleague at the boss’s level or higher to address him or her on your behalf.

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