Neutralize a Teammate's Hostility

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Keeping your career on the right track can require more than staying on the good side of your boss and immediate co-workers. It can also mean heading off a budding conflict with a person in a different department, such as human resources.

An enemy in HR is especially dangerous, observes office politics expert Vicky Oliver, author of Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers, and Other Office Idiots. That's because if layoffs happen, HR staff "have a say" as to who goes and who stays. She explains how to fix the problem in an article in Monday's Metro newspaper.

The first step is figuring out the reason someone dislikes you. "Grab a lunch and try to get along with them, chemistry-wise," Oliver says. If you can't win them over face-to-face, she offers five alternatives. Although presented in terms of making peace with HR, the advice seems equally applicable to a potential adversary elsewhere in your company.

Two recommendations are obvious: Make friends with your adversary's boss. And, get your boss to put a good word in your personnel record.

Besides getting the relevant authorities on your side, Oliver advises polishing your team-player credentials. Team players tend to be spared from the layoff knife, she notes.

So, one idea is to take initiative to boost group togetherness by organizing an event such as a company bowling night. (If that particular activity sounds corny, substitute one you think will appeal to your work group.)

Another team-player suggestion is to make friends throughout the company - not just within your department and the HR department. "To be perceived as a team player, you need to befriend everyone, from your co-workers to the receptionist and mailroom clerk," Oliver told Metro. "Chemistry rules over talent.

Finally, she recommends being kind to your adversary when they're not around. "If you can be completely friendly and say nice things (behind their back, it will definitely get back to them."

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