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Fend off looming threats

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in Office Politics,Workplace Communication

It’s easy to manage people when everyone’s happy and free of office politics. But conditions are rarely so rosy.

Peer jealousies and turf wars can stymie your best efforts to bring about workplace harmony. Instead of motivating from a position of strength, besieged managers fend off real and perceived adversaries while covering their flank.

It’s tough to maintain a positive attitude when you’re embroiled in interpersonal conflict. Perhaps you can identify with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president who’s “most effective and most reasonable as a leader when he does not feel threatened,” a former U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal. “He is at his absolute worst when he feels he’s under siege.”

Seasoned managers wait out periods of turmoil. “This too shall pass” becomes their mantra. Fighting back too aggressively or impulsively can bury them in a deeper hole.

They also know that threats often morph into opportunities. Facing threats in one direction, they turn in another direction to forge new allies.

“When another supervisor kept pilfering my resources, I responded by launching initiatives that he couldn’t sabotage,” a reader tells us. “I would’ve never come up with those initiatives, which proved very successful, had things been going smoothly.”

If you’re under siege, compartmentalize your stress. Don’t use it as an excuse to justify your shaky job performance. Your friends and family might be sympathetic to the threats you’re fending off, but your bosses probably won’t provide a shoulder to cry on.

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