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Getting along with ‘frenemies’

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in Workplace Communication

Frenemies aren’t just found on reality TV shows; they’re everywhere. Even Apple has one: Google.

If you have “frenemies”—colleagues with whom you have cordial, unproductive relationships—don’t give up. Before they become full-fledged enemies, do the following:

Remind yourself of the facts. It may feel as if “everyone” is making it tough for you to get your job done.But maybe only one or two people are not supportive. Write down what you know.

Talk it out. If someone is bugging you, odds are, you are bugging him. Talking it out requires stating the facts, offering up your interpretation and asking for feedback.

Example: “I noticed that you canceled our last two meetings. It seems like you have more pressing priorities. What’s going on?”

Work it out. If the problem persists, find another way around it. For example, if your co-worker continues canceling meetings, drop by her office to chat. If she asks for more information from you, give her plenty of it. If she asks you to do x, y and z, do them all—and early, so her obstacles won’t slow you down.

Relax. If every strategy fails, you may need to adjust your timelines to align with the tempo of the organization.

And remember: Collaborating isn’t easy.

— Adapted from “How to Get Along With Frenemies,” Susan Cramm, Harvard Business Review blog.

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