Do You Have An Arch-Enemy?

For Batman, it was the Joker. For Superman — Lex Luthor. Spider-Man — The Green Goblin. All were shining examples of light and dark in life — good and evil. Does this happen in real life? Does this happen on the job? Sure.

Do YOU have an arch-enemy? Or someone who exemplifies the term arch-enemy? Someone who:

  • Actively thwarts (I love that word) your plans at every turn.
  • Throws obstacles in your path.
  • Interrupts the smooth flow of your job.
  • Tosses a wrench in your presentation or your communication avenues.
  • Miscommunicates your intentions to your superiors.
  • Causes consternation with your team.
  • Forces your peers to take sides against you.
  • Is a general pain in the butt?

So what do you do? You have three choices:

  1. Confront the person — deal with the issue at hand.
  2. Act as if nothing is happening — no hill to die on here.
  3. Run away — give in and agree with the person.

Which one do you think I want you to choose? That's right, Number Three.

Bazinga! Sorry, wrong answer. YOU MUST PICK NUMBER ONE.

So, how do you do it?

If you are an executive:

  • Start tracking all the things they do to you. A condescending email, a confrontation during a meeting, taking credit for your work. You need to build up EVIDENCE. Just because they hurt your emotions doesn't mean you can do anything about it. You need FACTS.
  • Decide when to confront them directly — when are YOU at your best. In the morning, afternoon, or evening. Choose the time.
  • Meet with them ALONE and in an area where you can speak freely and frankly. Not a cafeteria — choose a conference room.
  • Start out by asking, "Tom, do you regard me as a colleague and friend at this company?" They should say YES.
  • Then say, "Then why do you do these things . . ." and begin to bring out each of the things they do to you. Ensure this info comes with people, places, and dates.
  • If they deflate and apologize (80-90% of them do), acknowledge their admission, and say you are willing to move on and forget about their past transgressions.
  • If they are belligerent and lie, prevaricate, or blame you — clearly state you are here to clear things up and you are onto their game.  If they are unwilling to acknowledge the facts you presented, let them know you will shut them down. This means no communication, no niceties, and if they need ANYTHING, they will get a big FU from you.
  • It's your choice at this point to escalate. But beware, most managers hate when their kids don't get along.

If you own a business, it's probably a competitor:

  • Again, start tracking all of their transgressions. Do they advertise and put you in a bad light? Do they gossip and lie with your vendors or customers? Do they spread misinformation at industry functions? Track and rate how bad each transgression is.
  • Decide if you need to better market your products and services. Maybe they have the upper hand because they are better at marketing. And you might be jealous (this happens all the time).
  • If they are blatantly saying bad things about you (like, "The board of health violates them every month."), you need to speak with the owner. It won't be a pretty conversation, but you just can't sit back and have them lie about you.
  • If it gets worse, you need to escalate immediately. If they run slanderous ads, talk to the newspaper or magazine. If it's really bad, get an attorney and understand your options.


P.S. If you have an arch-enemy - Let’s talk. I love working with people who want to 'kill' their competition — call or email me to schedule a complimentary session.