Have you ever been in an office rivalry?
How did you deal with it, and what was the outcome?
While a rivalry in the office can be challenging, if you understand how to communicate and show mutual respect, you can bridge the divide and turn the relationship around for the better.
Here are steps you need to take to get things back on a positive track:
- Recognize that emotion is the fuel driving your relationship with your office rival. When emotions are strained, it’s difficult to regain the level of trust needed to rebuild the relationship and reverse its destructive course. Be the bigger person and take the initiative to extend an olive branch.
- There is a tendency to assume the worst, and that your rival was intentionally malicious or deliberately trying to throw you under the bus. The lack of trust is why it is important for you to understand their motivations before you escalate your concerns to senior leadership. Address the individual privately, indicating that you have noticed that communication between the two of you “has been strained.” Reiterate that your relationship with them is important to you. If the timing is not convenient to further the discussion at this time, suggest meeting in a neutral location (meeting room or restaurant), which will help to ease the tension.
- Have the courage to identify the situation that prompted you to suggest the conversation. Avoid being confrontational and take ownership for your part in the matter by acknowledging that “you sense hostility in your communication.” Express your interest in understanding how the other person feels. Ask what buttons you may be pushing that are causing them to be reactive. Be genuinely curious and probe for specific examples. Take the time to process the other person’s words and tone. When you reply, speak from your heart.
- Stay calm. Most aggressive people attempt to dominate conversations. As well, they might enjoy blaming others. Resist the temptation to react to accusations or get defensive. For the best outcome, you might say: “It was not my intention to make you feel that way. Let’s explore how we can respect and work better together moving forward.”
- Identify a common goal. Is there a mutual benefit to your relationship that can enable both of you to achieve your individual goals or objectives? The key is to find out what it is and then establish an alliance of mutual gain.
While dealing with office politics is never fun, especially when you feel you are someone’s target, one of the best defenses is to have strong relationships with other team members and key influencers in your company. When you have a strong reputation, it’s harder for someone to sideline you.
In the end, and regardless of the outcome, you should ask yourself “What have I learned from this experience that will help me to grow?”