But I want you to consider the possibility that returning like for like is a mistake. Look at the three practical steps below — all of them effective ways to deal with troublemakers — and notice: None involve talking about, thinking about, or speaking with the troublemakers themselves, because that doesn’t work. Here’s what does work:
1. Do your work extremely well. Think of your level of excellence as a sliding scale, from doing as little as you can do without getting fired all the way up to doing your very best every second you are at work. At any given moment, you are somewhere between those two extremes. Move yourself further up the scale and you will feel more confident of your position. Doing your work well counteracts the feelings of insecurity a troublemaker can cause.
2. Keep your integrity level high. Doing anything unethical will increase the insecurity you feel. Conversely, the more you act with honesty and fairness, the better you will feel about yourself and about your position at work.
3. Stay in good communication with everyone else. A common response to feeling that someone is out to get you is to withdraw. But that’s a big mistake. The universe of human opinion abhors a vacuum, and if a troublemaker says something bad about you and the listener hears nothing from you, guess what? The slanderous information will tend to hold the floor from lack of any other viewpoint. Your bosses and coworkers may be mature, rational people, but human emotions still influence their decisions, opinions, and conclusions. Stay in communication with people — not trying to prove anything, but just being yourself — and the reality of who you are will help negate any rumors about you.
Do these three and the threat from the troublemaker will be minimized. You can’t really get rid of such an element for good. That’s the trouble with troublemakers. They are bound to crop up now and then, as inevitably as a bad storm. If you try to argue with them or fight with them or use their tactics on them, you will lose. They’ve been at it longer than you.
Do your work to the best of your ability, conduct yourself honorably, and stay in good communication. Your position will be solid and the storm will pass over you without so much as a shudder.
This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.