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Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, goes the saying -- but what do you do with a 'frenemy'? We all have at least one of these, and as docile as they may sound, this species of office colleague (someone that you get along well with, but don't really trust), can be extremely dangerous.
A humdrum office entity, someone you share a laugh with but are wary of when it comes to more important issues, a frenemy needs to be handled with care. There are no sure-fire remedies, no anti-frenemy vaccines or Frenemy Finders, but here are some pointers on how to deal with yours.
~ Know your frenemies
You don't need to go around the office sticking post-its on colleagues to identify them as friends, enemies or 'frenemies'. And it's difficult to identify them if the relationship is still cordial, but waiting for the situation to change is just foolish.
You don't have to be a mind reader to have a vague idea of what anyone's intentions are or look into a crystal ball to predict who plays Judas at the workplace. Use your instinct, and trust it. If you have been burned in the past, be more wary before letting your defenses down.
~ Watch what you say (and do)
If you know what you have said or are saying, no one can claim you said something you have no recollection off. Be specific. Keep jokes non-personal, and make sure you don't go around talking about others. Although there will be no defamation suit, you don't want to be the fire starter.
~ Keep your distance
This doesn't mean you run away and hide every time you see the frenemy. What you ideally should be doing is your work, not trying to avoid those you work with. Office dynamics are strange, but you should never get to close to someone or too far. In a team, there may be those who aren't the best of friends, but no one said that best friends make the best teams.
~ Learn from your mistakes
Haven't we all heard that? Success from failure is true if you fail, the question doesn't arise if you succeed. So learn from your mistakes. If a colleague has caused you problems in the past, be wary. It's stupid to keep getting burned.
What you need to do is analyse where you go wrong. Remember, there will always be frenemies as long as office politics exists, what you have to do is step above this. Every time you falter remind yourself of the situation, so the next time around you have a flashback of the consequences.
~ Steer clear of controversies
Start new ventures, not new problems; keep away from the birds of the office gossip flock, usually found during office hours around the cafeteria, smoking room or some other colleague's cubicle.
~ Be honest
Clich�d, but true. In the real world honesty is long gone, and has been replaced by the convenient untruth. But as someone who is more old school, honesty works because then you have no reason to cover up, keep track of lies or change your stance. Once your frenemy knows that you are honest in your words and work, the pretences start to crumble. You can even convey your feelings to your frenemy (not advisable though if the other person doesn't feel the same, or appears not to).
~ Be competitive not conniving
Keep your competitive edge. You may be part of a team but once you raise the benchmark, everyone else has a new standard to step up to. There is a small difference between strategy and scheming. Strategies make victories and schemes just have unhappy endings. So don't waste time on getting back at your frenemy. Instead be more competitive. Rise up after a fall and work twice as hard.
~ Stop living in the past
S*** happens, get over it! If you harbour grudges for being stabbed in the back or burned or whatever you choose to call it, you are just bait for the next frenemy to prey on. Move on, there is more to the office than that "friend" who let you down.
~ Face your frenemy
Fears aside, confront the issue. If you feel that your frenemy is hindering your office performance, speak to him or her. Avoidance is procrastination. One day you'll notice that the knife in your back has begun to hurt and you wonder how it got there. So don't let the situation escalate, work to keep it in check, always!
~ It's an office, not a battlefield
What ever your thoughts, feelings or emoticons on work, you have to keep in mind that it is not a place to exchange fire. It's a place to exchange ideas and thoughts on how to move forward. So stay focused on your goals and they others will fall in line -- eventually.
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