The (Un)Civil Workplace: Co-workers undermining co-workers

The (Un)Civil Workplace Co-workers undermining co-workers - People Development Network
The (Un)Civil Workplace Co-workers undermining co-workers - People Development Network

Are co-workers undermining co-workers?

“Motor Mania” is the 1950 Walt Disney cartoon where, once in his car, mild-mannered Goofy becomes road-rage Goofy, returning to mild-mannered Goofy once he reaches his destination.



If you drive you know you’re surrounded by “road rage Goofy’s”; individuals believing themselves entitled, as though the law does not apply to them, who will do whatever they feel will advance them past everyone else.

But what happens when they get where they’re going, for example, to work? For that matter, what happens when you get to work?

Obviously, we can’t allow ourselves to get as out of control at work as Goofy did driving, at least not if we want to stay employed. That said we still do we experience a lot of passive/aggressive co-workers undermining co-workers, some of it our own doing.

Work requires us to channel anger into a more benign but nonetheless disruptive form of expression.

Instead of screaming we scheme, we don’t threaten we plot, we undermine rather than support co-workers we see as our competition, and none of this does the company, or us, any good.

You might attempt to self-justify your words and actions, and while others won’t necessarily know, you know when your real motives are not what you want others to believe them to be.

To check this you can and should impose three personal behavioral rules on yourself.

What? Why? For What Reason?

Monitor yourself, question your motives for even thinking what you ultimately might say or do:

  1. What are you really trying to accomplish? You do know so begin by being honest with yourself. Don’t feed yourself the justification you’ve devised for others until you make absolutely certain it is the truth.
  2. Why must you do or say whatever you feel so certain must be said or done by you? If it really is that important you should know, and if you don’t, take more time to figure it out. And once again, this is not the justification you’ll offer to others for your actions and words. This is cold, hard truth.
  3. Finally, what do you hope to accomplish by what you plan to do and/or say? If the answer even suggests some potential personal benefit to primarily or only you, go back to step 1 and begin again.

Smiling Faces

“I’m happy she got the promotion, I hope it works out for her although, based on her past, I have my doubts.”

“You should have seen him at last Friday’s happy hour. Totally wasted!”

“NO cooperation with production! No matter what they ask for, don’t give it to them.”

You’ve likely heard similar things where you work, possibly even said some of it yourself.

Nothing as overtly dangerous as the everyday discourteous drivers we’re all subjected to, and certainly nothing as bad as out-of-control Goofy. But damaging nevertheless.

The Undisputed Truth, a popular music trio from the 70’s, called us all out in “Smiling Faces“. There’s a little bit to a lot of what they sing about in all of us; let’s do our best to make it less.



William Matthies
William Matthies founded Coyote Insight in 2000 to help start-ups as well as established companies and brands plan for profitable growth. In 1986 he founded what was to become the largest independent market research/database marketing company in the consumer electronics and high tech fields. By the time he sold The Verity Group in 1997, the company employed 400+ people at its California and Costa Rica offices. Today he serves on corporate advisory boards lecturing frequently at industry events around the world on managing change, strategic planning, and customer relations. William's spare time is spent seeking out experiences that change his perspective, while at the same time having great fun. A few years ago, he visited Russia for a Mach 2.5 flight in a MiG 25 supersonic aircraft flying to 80,000 feet, the edge of space. Want details? Contact him, he'll be happy to tell you about it!
William Matthies