9 Rules to Avoid Making Enemies at Work

It may not be obvious to some how their behavior creates resentment among colleagues.

Michael Wade

Ed read Maria’s report and concluded that his approach was better. At the strategy meeting, rather than simply noting the advantages of his proposals, he described Maria’s recommendations as “juvenile and defensive.”

Ellen questions motives. Her opponents are never simply wrong. They are working toward some selfish or evil goal.

Carl is more generous. He regards those who disagree with him as “poorly educated.” The idea that they may be just as knowledgeable and yet reach different conclusions is not even on his radar screen.

Ed, Ellen, and Carl either do not realize the extent to which their behavior creates hard feelings or they do not care. Their techniques have become second nature. They blurt out their suspicions and judgments without pause. As a result, they have accumulated an unusually large array of enemies. The trio could benefit from following these nine ground rules:

  • Be very wary of ascribing bad motives to anyone who disagrees with your position.
  • Criticize the proposal and not the person.
  • Understate your case and moderate your language.
  • Look at the situation from the other person’s perspective.
  • Don’t rush to judgment.
  • Seek to clarify areas of agreement and disagreement.
  • Recognize that wise and well-meaning people can strongly and sincerely disagree on major issues.
  • Accord basic courtesy.
  • Err on the side of kindness.
  • Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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