Do you have ophidiophobia? Many people suffer from this common phobia -- the fear of snakes. Before you answer "no" take a moment to think. Because although you might not be afraid of a harmless garter variety, you may be alarmed by an unusual specimen found in many product teams: the office snake.
You know who I am talking about -- that one colleague who seems to revel in subterfuge and backbiting. The one who plays a supporting role in nearly every team conflict and seems oddly at peace with dark and chaotic places.
Even if your company makes a concerted effort to banish workplace drama, the occasional snake may slip in. And even more astonishing, they can slither their way right up to a leadership role.
How can you know for sure that an office snake is in your midst? There are a few telltale signs. This person sneaks around, speaking in whispers, gathering secrets, and spreading lies. And they masterfully glide out of trouble just as quickly as they get into it.
You deserve to work hard and be happy. And you should not have to constantly watch for creatures who lurk in the shadows. Is that too much to ask?
Everyone deserves a workplace filled with professional folks, not reptiles. But even if you do discover a snake, all is not lost. You do not have to lash out or engage in treachery.
Here is how you can outsmart this devious colleague:
The snake will try to inject the team with poison, in an effort to derail plans and advance their own agenda. Do not let those schemes distract your focus. Commit to your goals and stay responsive to your team and your customers.
Avoid the den
Dirty work can be accomplished without the help of anyone else, but the snake would prefer some company in the dark. Do not follow suit. Instead, embrace truth and transparency. Firmly disengage from the gossip and lies when you hear it.
Learn to charm
I am not suggesting that one kind word will magically render that snake powerless. But remaining a true professional -- and choosing not to strike back -- can help minimize their power. Once the snake realizes you will not engage, they will likely lose steam. Be the snake charmer.
With fangs on display and all of that rattling and hissing, it is no wonder that the typical office snake appears threatening. Yes, they can stir up trouble, but this snake does not have the deadly power of a boa or a python.
You see, the office snake thrives on negative attention. Making others feel worse feeds this person's fragile ego. So the next time a colleague starts whipping up everyone's emotions, just chalk it up to self-centeredness and insecurity.
Stay true to yourself and commit to your goals. Invest in building the team up, not tearing people down. No matter what your role is, you can be a part of creating a work environment where reptiles cannot survive.
Have you dealt with snakes in your workplace?