I’m so glad to see there is a website for this stuff… a way to vent some issues to a non biased party and hopefully get some guidance on what to do.
What do you do when you have a person that separates themselves from everyone else? And that uses their positional power too much. So much, that animosity is being created in the office because of it. In addition, she gets angry with everyone because they don’t want to be around her on a personal level. This person constantly throws her co-workers “under the bus.” She is the type of person that blows everything out of proportion and never takes responsibility for her actions. We are also dealing with the “halo” effect in this case, since her supervisor doesn’t hold her accountable.
I am trying my best to understand this person. I want to help lead by example and maybe influence her if possible to do the right thing. I’m just having a hard time coming to the right conclusion.
Under the Bus
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY CHRISTINE COMAFORD-LYNCH
Dear Under the Bus,
Ugh. I’ve been where you are, my friend. The halo effect may look like the person gets away with murder, but that untouchable glow is highly isolating. Because she feels “above the law” she is disconnected and disrespected by all around her. So she lashes out, throwing people “under the bus” because she feels so isolated, which only perpetuates the pattern. Sad, isn’t it?
What I’ve done in the past with people like this is first, to feel compassion for them. They are clearly terribly lonely and are suffering much of the time. Next, I make sure I avoid getting caught in their games. I make a point of treating all my colleagues with respect, kindness, fairness. Genuine decency is the best policy. Last, you need to find something about her that you admire. It may be trivial, but there is something about her that is admirable. Maybe she is a devoted mother, supports a non-profit, is artistic… find something, anything.
Then if she is unkind to you, don’t lash out. Act like the cop in the old TV show “Columbo” and feel puzzled (scratching your head might be going too far). Simply pull her aside and muster a feeling of kindness as you remember what you admire about her. Say something like “I think perhaps I misunderstood something. I know you’re a fine human being and didn’t mean any harm, so when you _____ I was really puzzled. Can you help me understand what you meant?”
This way you can avoid getting emotionally snared, keep your self-respect, and see her as a wounded animal that does have some endearing qualities.
It’s essential to not let yourself be bullied by a person like this.
Thank you for writing to Office Politics.
Christine Comaford-Lynch, Author, Rules for Renegades
New York Times bestselling author Christine Comaford-Lynch is CEO of Mighty Ventures, an innovation accelerator which helps businesses to massively increase sales, product offerings, and company value. She has built and sold 5 of her own businesses with an average 700% return on investment, served as a board director or in-the-trenches adviser to 36 startups, and has invested in over 200 startups as a venture capitalist or angel investor. Christine has consulted to the White House (Clinton and Bush), 700 of the Fortune 1000, and hundreds of small businesses. She has repeatedly identified and championed key trends and technologies years before market acceptance. Christine’s popular column on www.BusinessWeek.com/SmallBiz launched in January 2007.Christine has led many lives: Buddhist monk, Microsoft engineer, geisha trainee, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. Her triumphs and disasters are revealed in her New York Times (and USA Today, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Amazon.com ) bestselling business book: Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality. The book is available at all major retailers, the Office-Politics bookstore, or via www.RulesForRenegades.com.
Christine has appeared on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX Business Network, PBS, CNET and is frequently quoted in the business, technology and general press at large. Stanford Graduate School of Business has done two case studies on her and PBS has featured her in three specials (Triumph of the Nerds, Nerds 2.0.1, and Nerd TV ). CNET has broadcast two specials covering her unconventional rise to success as a woman with neither a high school diploma nor college degree. Christine believes we can do well and do good, using business as a path for personal development, wealth creation, and philanthropy.
(Video bio at: http://www.mightyventures.com/bio.php )