When someone makes you look bad at work

This behavior is disempowering and injects a fear of losing your job which ultimately leads to a fear of losing people who you love.

If you work anywhere you likely have had a colleague try to make you look bad. Most of my clients have had to struggle with this. It is disempowering and injects a fear of losing your job which ultimately leads to a fear of losing people who you love.

This is where executive presence is crucial. This is where you don’t react at all.


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This is where you just pause, stare at them for a count of five and then ask, “Are you trying to make me look bad?”

That will stop them dead.

Call them out with curiosity for exactly what they are doing. Don’t characterize them, get angry or defensive. Simply ask them if what it looks like they are doing is in fact what they are doing.

If they deflect back to you say, “Ok, I wanted to get clarity on that because for a minute it felt like you were trying to make me look bad.” No one can argue with how you feel.

This scenario gives you a few moments to re-center yourself, for people on the periphery to validate in their minds what is truly happening, and for the other person to feel embarrassment for their behavior. Then move on to what is important about what you are doing without defending what you’ve been accused of.

Wishing you the freedom of executive presence today.

This article first appeared on Maryleegannon.com. 


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