To deal with a coworker who is undermining you, there are some things you need to know about what undermining is and why it’s not uncommon for it to happen at the workplace.
Being undermined by a coworker can be frustrating and demotivating. A lot of people underestimate how much this can affect them in the long run. Undermining is when your coworker speaks badly about you to other people in the office, tries to put a negative light on the way you solve problems and complete tasks, tries to make things harder for you, or even goes against the ideas that you have.
This kind of behavior can come from several different reasons. Sometimes coworkers are just trying to “one-up” you. Sometimes, they have a problem with you, or they feel threatened about how good your relationship with the boss is.
How to Deal with a Coworker Who Undermines You
Determining Whether Your Coworker is Being Undermining
Once you’ve determined that your coworker is undermining you, the next step is to try and find out if it’s intentional or not. If you have any suspicions that this person might be trying to sabotage you, you should confront them.
When trying to determine whether the undermining behavior is intentional or not, consider the following questions-
* Is this person ordinarily challenging to get along with? If so, there’s a high chance that the undermining behavior could be intentional. If you think about it, they’re probably trying to make you fight for your position at the company.
* Does this person seem like they’re trying to one-up you? One of the best ways to find out is by paying attention to what they do or say after you’ve done something. If they come back and add on to your idea, then that’s a pretty good indication that they might be trying to one-up you.
* Do you think that there could be some hidden personal issue between the two of you that could be the cause for this behavior? Sometimes, when people feel that they’re not in control or feel threatened, undermining is a defense mechanism.
Gathering Your Resources
Before you confront your coworker, make sure that you gather all the evidence. If this person is a repeat offender in terms of undermining behavior, then it’ll be much easier to prove something if you have some examples to back yourself up.
Make sure that you also think about the following questions-
* What’s motivating them to do this?
* How did they react when you confronted them about it previously? Was there any change in their behavior after that?
* What are some of the things that they have done to undermine you? Try to get as many examples as possible. If you can get others to back up your claims, that will make your case a lot more convincing.
Confronting Your Coworker
Once you’ve got all your information and evidence, it’s time to confront your coworker. It might seem like common sense, but make sure that the conversation is in private and start with something like this: “This may be difficult to talk about, and I hope you don’t take it the wrong way…”
It can be challenging to confront your coworker about this behavior because if they are doing it intentionally, then there’s a chance that they might get mad or offended. When confronting them, make sure you remain calm and try not to stoop down to their level by getting angry.
What you should do is say that the undermining behavior hurts your feelings and impacts your work performance. Talk about how it makes it difficult for you to get your job done correctly, and give them an example of when this had happened previously.
It’s also important to show them how their undermining affects other people at work since this can sometimes be a more effective way of showing them the consequences.
Talking with Your Boss
The problem with confronting your coworker is that they might not take you seriously, and future problems could still be an issue. In these cases, it can sometimes help to talk to your boss about it instead.
Your boss should know what’s going on if this has been a recurring issue, and they can also advise on how to deal with it. Your boss can also give you referrals to other people in the company that you could go to for support.
Sticking It Out
In some cases, your coworker will start taking you seriously when confronted, but they continue undermining you after that point. What should you do in these cases?
There might still be hope for some resolution, but it will take time and effort on your part. If you’ve dealt with them specifically about the issue and they seem like they’re still trying to do it, then try talking to them again or go to a higher-up for help.
Don’t let the behavior continue without taking action.
The Problem Might Be You
Sometimes, the real problem might be you. This can happen if your coworker isn’t trying to undermine you, and there’s a legitimate reason for why they’re doing it. For example, maybe they’ve been given different information from you, or they don’t understand what you’re asking them to do. If that’s the case, then you might have a personal problem that needs to be resolved between the two of you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why would a person want to undermine another coworker?
A: There are many reasons why someone might try and undermine another coworker. Some of the most common reasons include:
* They don’t like you, and they’re trying to cause problems for you.
* They’re jealous of your position or your abilities.
* They feel insecure and try to make themselves feel better by “winning” the situation.
* They want to deflect responsibility onto you.
The list can go on, but you get the point. It’s essential to understand what might be motivating them before trying to work it out with them.
Q: What if the issue is serious, and I don’t think we can work it out?
A: If you’re not able to work anything out with your coworker, then you might have to escalate the issue to a higher authority within your company. The good news here is that your boss or HR department will likely know what’s going on and what they can do to resolve the issue for you.
Q: Should I try and work things out with my coworker first before talking to someone higher up?
A: You should always start by trying to work it out with your coworker. However, if they are not taking the problem seriously or continue to undermine you, it’s best to escalate the issue.
Q: What if I’m dealing with someone who is my boss or a higher-up at work?
A: You’re going to need to handle this situation very carefully, depending on how much authority they have over you. For example, if your manager has been undermining your efforts, you might need to talk with them privately and see if they’re willing to work it out. If that doesn’t work, escalation shouldn’t be too difficult since the next step is to go to their superior.
Q: I’ve tried talking with my coworker before, but nothing changes, what should I do?
A: If you’ve already tried to have a conversation with your coworker before and it hasn’t gone anywhere, then you might need to try something different. For example, if you’ve asked them for help with something, but they try undermining it right away, then that’s not good. It might be time to go straight to their superior or HR.
Q: What if my coworker has been undermining me for a long time? Do I just have to put up with it?
A: No way! You shouldn’t have to put up with someone who is trying to undermine your efforts at work. Take action and try to get them to stop or talk about it if they won’t.
Q: If I go to someone higher up, how will it look for me? I don’t want to be seen as the person who’s causing trouble.
A: It might sting that your coworker is trying to undermine you but remember, it’s not your fault. Regardless of who is to blame, you shouldn’t be the person dealing with this problem alone. If they’ve been undermining you without any consequences, then that needs to change, and HR will help.
Q: What if talking to somebody higher up isn’t an option?
A: If there is no other option but to work it out with them, you might want to try and be very direct with them. For example, ask them straight up what the problem is and how you can fix it together.
If your coworker has been undermining you and it’s affecting your work, then take the necessary steps to resolve the conflict. However, if talking with them doesn’t help or they’re unwilling to work it out with you, then escalate the situation to a higher authority within your company.