Dealing with a sneaky colleague

Sunday, 4 November 2012 - 12:23pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Are you facing this problem? Here are some experiences that may help you.

‘Pooja's approach is sneaky’
Nishta Khanna* works as an account manager at a digital marketing company. Due to the nature of her job, the work atmosphere is largely creative. Her fellow colleague, Pooja*, makes this atmosphere extremely tense and difficult by always dominating the creative space. “Pooja's approach to things is very sneaky,” says Nishta. “If I've made a presentation for a client, she will ask to have a look at it and then add a few slides in the end and forward it to the boss, who will think that it is done entirely by her,” whines Nishta. She adds that at meetings, Pooja always likes to have everyone's undivided attention and if ideas have been discussed before the meeting, she goes on to explain Nishta's idea, giving the impression that it's hers. Even at brainstorming sessions, Pooja jots down everybody's ideas on the board, which again give the impression that all the ideas are her brainchild. “She even stooped so low so as to steal my idea, pitch it to her client and earned accolades,” Nishta says. What irks Nishta is that Pooja is not her senior; they share the same designation. Nishta does not want to comes across as a crybaby and as a result, feels helpless about the situation.

‘Don't get intimidated’
Nishta's case is not an isolated one. Every organisation has that one Mr Sneaky, the person who loves to hog the limelight at meetings, take credit for what's not his and is efficient at stealing fellow employees' thunder at any given opportunity. Dr Seema Hingorrany, clinical psychologist and author of Beating the Blues, believes that this type of person suffers from an inferiority complex which they try to put across by acting superior, even if they might not know everything. “The key is to never get intimidated by them. If you get scared, you will find it even more difficult to survive.” She says that the victim should not get defensive as it will lead to arguments and tiffs. “Observe their behaviour and always maintain a distance. Don't be too friendly with them and be calm and composed in your gestures and body language. This is the best way to get your message across.” Trying to prove your point by emulating them is another thing that Dr Hingorrany disapproves of. She recommends being confident about your work and research. “Trust your abilities; you will be appreciated for your effort,” she says. Her final advice is to tell the truth if the situation arises as people always appreciate it.

‘I became a lot more vocal’
Dr Hingorrany's advice was implemented by Nishta at her workplace. For starters, she stopped getting upset and went about her work silently and confidently. Keeping in mind Dr Hingorrany's advice about restricting out-of-office interaction, Nishta would make an excuse and avoid social outings with Pooja when the latter asked her to hang out after work. This was the first signal for Pooja. Nishta also decided to not take things lying down, albeit in a non-aggressive way. “I stopped being submissive and became more vocal at meetings and brainstorming sessions. I started pitching my own ideas so that Pooja could not do that before me,” says Nishta. The change in behaviour brought Pooja close to confronting her, but Nishta avoided the situation tactfully by saying she had a lot of work to finish. “In fact, after I had made a presentation and this was forwarded to the boss, I ensured that the boss knew who had done the work,” says Nishta.
While Pooja's attitude hasn't altered dramatically, Nishta's behaviour has sent the right signals and things at work have become a lot smoother.

*Names changed

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