Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Using The Friends and Allies of Your Enemy to Your Advantage!

My mother always said, “You can count the number of your real friends on one hand." I think this is absolutely true. However, when it comes to counting actual friendships in the workplace, you could lose a few of your digits and you still wouldn’t be at a loss to finish the task. And, that’s during the good times. When things begin to go terribly wrong at work, due to bullying, harassment, discrimination or retaliation, isolation can become a major part of your workplace life.

But, cheer up. Even if you find that everyone is suddenly really busy when you stop by their office and no one wants to go to lunch with you anymore, it doesn’t change the fact that you can still find ways to get the friends and allies of your enemies to provide you with useful information that supports your allegations of workplace abuse.

Who is your enemy? For the purposes of this post, your enemy is whoever is spearheading the attacks against your job security, work performance, character, ethics, etc. This may be the supervisor who gave you a fraudulent performance review in order to deny you a promotion, the person who is causing you an offensive work environment by making racial slurs and slandering you with false charges to other staff in an attempt to isolate you from your coworkers or it may be a person who is denying you assignments because of their racial prejudices.

Your enemy is a specific person or people. If your company, as a whole, is trying to run you out of a job, you have a much larger and threatening problem, but can still use some of the strategies in this article to try to mine for insider information. And, that takes us right back into how you can manipulate the friends and allies of your enemy into giving you information they normally might not share.

Who exactly are the friends and allies of your enemy?

Friends are people that your enemy actually likes, including those your enemy goes to lunch with (not a business lunch), and/or meets with outside of work hours (happy hour, shopping, recreational activities, or to participate in other social events, etc.).

An ally may be a person that your enemy may or may not like, but there’s a strategic reason why they have some sort of pact or agreement to cooperate with each other at work. The pact can be a spoken or unspoken arrangement that just works in the best interest of both parties. As with friends, the allies of your enemy may be other coworkers, managers and supervisors, executives, or Human Resources personnel.

The friends and allies of your enemy can and may be co-conspirators in any actions taken against you with regard to your continued employment at your place of work. Even if they are not involved in assisting your enemy in tormenting you, they likely have the inside track on what is going on with the individual you’re having problems with. It’s for this reason that the statements and actions of the friends and allies of your enemy can be an important part of proving a case of bullying, harassment, discrimination or retaliation. For that reason, you shouldn’t necessarily shy away from these individuals. Instead, you should identify who may have useful information—and a disposition—that may help your case against your enemy.

This strategy will only work with people that you already have some sort of positive working relationship with. You don’t want to approach a coworker you’ve never spoken to or someone who dislikes you and begin trolling for information about your enemy who they, at least superficially, have a reason to protect.

You may be asking yourself, “Why would someone provide me with information about their friend or ally?” Here are a few reasons:

· If you play your cards right, they won’t even know they’re doing it! You’re not going up to people asking 20 questions. You’re just finding opportunities to manipulate situations to your advantage by subtly probing for information.

· People like to talk! The workplace is a breeding ground for gossip, innuendo, and a desire to prove more knowledgeable than others—by revealing things most people don’t know about it.

· Many people have a secret agenda! Who’s to say that a friend or ally of your enemy isn’t secretly after that person’s job or doesn’t secretly hold some sort of grudge against them that they’ve longed to settle? Remember, just because you don’t know whether or not someone has an agenda, doesn’t mean they don’t have one. If a person does have an agenda, it can be another motivating factor for them to share information with you.

· Outright Jealousy! There may be an element of envy that plays a part in the relationship between your enemy and their friends and allies. Therefore, jealousy might be a motivation for someone to “accidentally” assist you by providing you with information. IMPORTANT: When it comes to those who are speaking to you out of jealousy or because they have a secret agenda, you have to make sure that you’re not being fed a bunch of lies so that someone can settle a score with a third party. You should always try to verify any information you’re given with other sources that have knowledge about whatever “tip” you’ve been given. You’re talking to all of these people with the same purpose a private investigator might have when conducting an investigation, to find out the truth from people who have motives to lie or impede the truth from being told—even if their reasons for concealing information are not malicious.

· They have a conscience. Believe it or not, the people you decide you should speak to may truly resent the actions being undertaken by their friend or ally and, therefore, want to provide you information or with stealthy assistance that may help you protect your job. They really may feel terrible about what’s happening to you because they have integrity and a sense of fairness.

· They may actually like YOU! Therefore, even if they aren’t willing to stick their neck out for you because of their friendship or alliance, they may be willing to feed you information.

Still not sure you’re interested in tapping into this strategy of exploiting the bonds between your enemy and their friends and allies? Part 2 of this post will be available tomorrow. Stay tuned for more information.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I read this before I went through my issues. I do not think it would have saved me since my manager was extremely aggressive in getting people to say negative things about my performance.

I could use some one on one help as I go to the next step.

May I email you ?

9:01 AM  

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