Dealing With an 'Enemy' at Work

Q U E S T I O N: I'm an upbeat and positive person. But I work with someone who has it out for me. Every chance she gets, she is causing trouble. I tried to turn my back on her, but I can't anymore. What should I do?

— A Reluctant Hatfield

A N S W E R: Many people write to me describing a job where they're knee deep in "stuff" at work. Unfortunately for a 63-year-old Australian man, this metaphor really came to life, and almost ended his. Turns out that he was trying to escape from a mugging and so he fled into his outhouse. The muggers turned it on its side and he was trapped inside for 80 sweltering hours.

And he's not the only one spending too much time in the outhouse. Too many of us at work spend far too much time and energy dumping on the people we work with. Why can't we all just get along?

I've listed a series of questions for you to ask yourself to see if there is anything positive that you can extract from this situation. For more, check out Work Would Be Great If It Weren't For The People by Ronna Lichtenberg (Hyperion, 1998).

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent online ballot: What is the most common result after a job interview?

I hear back that I got the job — 20.3 percent. I hear back that I didn't get the job — 35.6 percent. I never hear from them again — 43.9 percent.

Winning Strategy

We'd like to hear your strategy for dealing with enemies at work. I'll give an autographed copy of Working Wounded: Advice That Adds Insight to Injury (Warner, 2000) to the best entry, plus I'll write you a memo — to your boss, to a co-worker who's bugging you — that's sure to get attention. Send your entry, name and address via:, email:, or fax: (206) 780-4353. Entries must be received by Wednesday, June 19.

Our winning strategy for dealing with a job interview, last week's topic, comes from Paula C. in Arlington, Texas: "I am a strong believer in 'having something to show' to back up what you're saying. Put a portfolio together that includes nonproprietary work samples, training certificates, accommodation letters, etc. You can even create charts that show how your work on a team contributed to the company's bottom line. A portfolio is a work in progress so I'm always looking out for current samples to include in it. Many times, my portfolio has been the only thing to separate me from my competitors — providing me with the edge to land the job."

List of the Week

Bob Rosner is the author of the Wall Street Journal business best seller, The Boss's Survival Guide (McGraw Hill, 2001), a speaker, and founder of the award-winning & E-mail him at publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.