Friday, March 16, 2007

Office Wars: Bad Actions From Nice People

Volumes have been written on the behavior of jerks. That attention, however, may inadvertently give comfort to people who denounce such behavior and assume that their own conduct is justified because it doesn't stoop to such extremes.

What is missed is how otherwise nice people can slip in the knife. Some common ways are:

Withdrawal. The person no longer fulfills responsibilities. Deadlines, e-mails, and phone calls are not acknowledged. If the person is confronted about the problems, he or she denies any bad intent.

Hiding knowledge. The person knows things that could be of assistance but doesn't volunteer the information.

Slowing down assistance. Help is given, but slowly and reluctantly. The reason for the delay is never admitted.

Spreading partial information. The person spreads information that is technically correct but misleading. For example, a co-worker may be described as having a punctuality problem. what is not mentioned is the person has been named Employee of the Year for the last three years.

"Losing" information. Information that could be of assistance to an adversary just happens to get lost.

Playing "Jailhouse lawyer." The bare minium of cooperation is given in accordance with the organization's policies. Strict adherence to the rules becomes a form of sabotage.

Incremental poisoning. The individual drops occasional negative tidbits about the designated victim into conversations with powerful figures. For example, "Ed has been doing such a good job controlling his temper lately."

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