You Work with Cruella De Vil – Now What?!
Growing up, I want to believe that teachers and classmates liked working with me. At work, bosses and workmates seem to enjoy collaborating with me and most of them remain to be dear friends to this day. Part of the reason for this is I like working in harmony and peace with others while effectively getting things done. If I can help it, I avoid confrontations and I cringe at the thought of having shouting matches with colleagues. I guess one of my goals in life is to keep the peace all while working for a better world.
So – imagine my chagrin having to work with an evil witch disguising as a corporate executive. Every meeting with her is World War III waiting to happen. Issues that could normally be resolved amicably turn into painful and contentious exchanges of twisted arguments and heated words. And if you think face to face with her is bad enough, you realize that you’re in far more danger when you turn your back. She bad-mouths anyone who does not agree with her and undermines their work and credibility. Never mind that she’s destroying another person’s reputation, she cannot help and even delights in churning out word-vomit to anyone who cares to listen.
How does one survive and even thrive in a world where scheming beings like this exist? How does one remain centered and rise above the challenge? Does one take revenge and plot for the Evil One to get a dose of her own medicine?
Here are some words of advice I’ve tried out for myself for the last 25 years and gathered from friends in the corporate world.
Tip #1: Don’t shy away from the challenge.
It’s tempting to simply dodge every meeting with her, all the while secretly wishing you can douse her with pure water to melt her. Remember that you need to get your work done no matter what. Think of her as a bump on the road that you need to get through. Show up prepared for every meeting and keep your emotion in check. She may try to rile you up and provoke you. Stay calm. Breathe. Focus on getting things done.
Tip #2: Don’t engage in a bad mouthing match.
It will take all your strength to resist giving her a dose of her own medicine. It will be a relief, even pleasurable to bash her with other people who also hate her guts. Resist this tendency. You are no better than her if you engage in such conversations. The only way to win is not to play the game.
Tip #3: Stay centered.
Meditate. Pray. More than ever, focus on your values and know who you are. Think of this as a lesson in strengthening your character. Make a list of your qualifications and accomplishments. The Evil One’s play is to make you doubt yourself. Enjoy the company of your friends and family and bask in their love and respect. Be kind to yourself.
Tip #4: Strengthen your relationships and establish your allies.
The Evil One will try to get to your network and plant seeds of ill will and doubt. Stay in touch with your valued stakeholders and continue to build and maintain your credibility by doing your job well. There is truth in the classic adage “you can never put a good man (or woman) down.”
Tip #5: Smile and be happy.
It is said that the best revenge is a good life. If the Evil One affects your mood and happiness, she would have won. Don’t let her win. Work is only a portion of your life and she is only a portion of your work. In the overall scheme of things, she is insignificant — a mere irritant, a pebble in your shoe. If it helps and if possible, find it in your heart to have compassion for her. She has her own suffering so she causes suffering for others. If this is not possible, then let it be. Forgiveness will come sooner or later. But try to keep that intention to forgive.
Tip #6: Chin up and get ready to stand your ground.
While you want to exercise compassion for her, watch for signs of danger and keep your guard up. The worst thing that can happen is for you to be blind-sided. Exercise good judgment and good governance lest she finds holes in your work (which by the way she will be in desperate search for).
Tip #7: Stick to your plans and strategies.
You have been hired for a specific reason and because management believes you are the best person for the job. Do not deviate from your plans, even if and especially if she tries to throw you off. Stay the course and see things through. Again, she is a mere bump on the road that you need to get through.
Tip #8: Continue to do your work excellently.
Regardless of the circumstances, keep your eye on the ball. You’re a friggin’ professional so act like one! Inhale, exhale, smile and get it done.
The Evil One will be armed with her bag of tricks, potions of wicked words and spells of sick insinuations. She will hurl it at anyone who gets in her way and even try to justify she is just “keeping it real” and “being herself.” She will put on a veil of brilliance or even a cloak of sincerity. Anchor yourself on your best defense — your inner core.
Remember: when all is said and done and she’s stripped of her false persona, she has no power over you. She may be a bitch but Karma is too. And it won’t be long before they finally meet.