Thursday, July 13, 2006

Using The Friends and Allies of Your Enemy to Your Advantage - Part 2!

Part 1 of this post, of the same title, asked you to consider cozying up to the friends and allies of your enemy in order to get information. This is a great tactic. I personally used it to get tons of information from coworkers and managers—information that I used in my external complaint against the company.

When you’re under attack from a racist coworker, supervisor, etc., it’s easy to get in the habit of isolating yourself. You may feel embarrassed because people know what’s happening to you, you could be the target of all the office gossip, coworkers may be treating you funny, etc. But, here are some of the reasons you may want to stay engaged in conversations with your coworkers:

· To get inside information! Personal and professional information about your enemy that you can use against them or to better understand them and their weaknesses. You may be able to find out their dirty laundry and use it against them to show their consistent lapses of judgment, personality clashes with other staff and managers, the mismanagement of staff and projects, similar complaints from other subordinates that may precede your employment with the company, etc.

· To find out your enemy’s strategies! To learn what they are doing and saying about you, particularly any tangible employment actions they may be planning to make or recommend that would negatively impact the status of your job.

· To spread your personal propaganda! Propaganda is a necessary part of any war. You may want to “leak” information to confuse or misdirect your enemy.

· To find out about your enemy’s enemies! The enemy of your enemy really may be your friend! Find out who has an axe to grind with your enemy and you can potentially protect yourself and your interests at work by developing a new alliance.

Your supervisor and/or employer will have no qualms with turning other employees against you, isolating/ostracizing you, ignoring your pleas for help with your situation or making false statements against you to undermine your contention that your rights are being violated. They will do whatever it takes to protect the company. You have to be prepared to go just as hard to protect your job, defend your reputation, stop the campaign against you, and fight for your employee rights, such as a workplace free from harassment, without discriminatory practices, etc.

I suggest you make nice with carefully picked friends and allies of your enemy. Only you can determine which friends and allies might actually provide you with information or assistance. I suggest you look for people who are levelheaded, unbiased, relatively honest, and seem to have a conscience. Once you identify these individuals, below are some suggestions on how to put them to work for you:

· Try to manipulate your enemy’s friends or allies to say more than they want. Again, this assumes you already have a decent working relationship with these individuals and it doesn’t matter if they’ve tried to stay out of whatever turmoil is going on at work. Ask the person for a few minutes of their time and tell them that you just have to talk to someone about your situation. Behave like you consider them an impartial and trusted confidante, express how much you value their opinions, praise them for always being in the loop and having inside knowledge, and assure them that more people should be like them—treating others with respect, contributing to a harmonious environment, etc.

This form of praise can get you a lot of information. People love flattery. But, don’t be over-the-top. Your praise should be realistic and should seem appropriate. Remember, this is not about butt-kissing. This is about misappropriating the use of someone else’s friend or ally to feed your own interests. You shouldn’t feel dirty when you’re done.

When talking to an enemy’s friends and allies, you are not giving information—you are trying to receive information. If the person is looking for reciprocation, feed them relatively unimportant scraps of information to satisfy their feeling that one hand is washing the other.

Don’t act too pressed for information. Be conversational and act like they are one of your trusted confidantes. But, don’t actually trust them! Always keep it in the back of your head that something that was said might be repeated to others—particularly your enemy.

The post, listed below, has some sample questions to get you started.


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