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An “enemy” at work can screw your career up.

These are people who are far more than internal competitors; they are individuals who will do anything to stab you in the back and screw you over because of the potential threat you pose to them. You just might get ahead of them.

The enemy creates havoc in the workplace as they try to advance their agenda at the expense of their colleagues.

I have survived many enemies in my career; it is critical to know how to spot them to so you can take evasive action and avoid being one of their victims.

This is what the enemy looks like.

1. They Are the Consummate Grinner

They grin you constantly.

You know, the phony false smile pasted on their face when they want you to believe they agree with what you are saying or a position you are taking.

In reality, their grin means exactly the opposite of support; they don’t believe a word you are saying and will admonish you whenever they get the chance.

Whenever you see the grin, be prepared for betrayal.

My enemy #1 came across to others as someone who was my friend; the perception was that we were close ally’s. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. I knew he was disingenuous and didn’t trust him one bit.

2. They Spread Fake News about You

They know who your real supporters are and will lie through their teeth about you to them. And they are smooth when they do it; experts in the innuendo and careful to be not too blatant.

They use the “grin fodder” you have provided as the fuel for their stories.

My enemy #1 was quite proficient in communicating to one and all that I didn’t support certain programs that were approved by the executive team. He was like an insidious disease trying to infect my colleagues to believe I was not a team player. Absolute rubbish of course but it showed the extent to which this person would go to discredit me.

3. They Treat Themselves as Number 1  —  Always

Never forget it. It might seem that they care about you and your circumstances but they don’t. “After me, you come first” is their mantra. They want you to let them in so you are vulnerable to a move they eventually make against you.

My enemy #1 was the epitome of narcissism. He gave the impression to the unsuspecting that he was supportive of his colleagues but would turn on a dime to solidify his position at the expense of someone else.

4. They Do Not Hesitate Throwing You under the Bus

Never expect they will take accountabilities of their actions. Whenever things go awry the enemy will always try and blame someone else for the screwup. They constantly want to be perceived as lily-white to those in the organization who they believe matter and will sacrifice anyone around to enhance their position.

My enemy #1 played to the CEO incessantly and would always try to disadvantage me in front of him by criticizing the tactics my marketing organization were employing to win customers back from our competition. And he made it sound so condescending.

Of course, defending against this type of attack on my part required cold-blooded arguments devoid of any emotion that could give my “friend’s” claims credibility.

5. They Believe They Are Righteous  

And this is the real scary thing about them. If you call them on any one of the aforementioned four issues they respond with shock and disbelief and will vehemently deny any culpability. They are pathological liars who are constantly in denial; that’s what makes them so dangerous.

I once confronted my enemy #1 about who he was; I believe he was genuinely shocked that he was perceived that way. As I explained my conclusion with examples of his behavior, he rejected each one with what he believed to be a convincing argument to prove I had misjudged him.

And my calling him out did nothing to change him because he didn’t believe he was that person.

An enemy can cause irrevocable harm to others if they are allowed to do their thing.

And never play their game. It turns out that the enemy eventually gets discovered and is punished for their sins.

My enemy #1 eventually was discovered by the CEO as that person and was fired. But he quickly moved on to another opportunity where his methods were not known and where he could continue his ways.

Watch for the enemy; don’t play into their hands. And don’t be part of the carnage they leave behind.

Written By
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead. You can also read more of Roy Osing's articles at his website.

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