Dealing with Conniving Individuals at Work

Dealing with Conniving Individuals at Work

Rumors, gossip, sabotage, hoarding information, and backstabbing. 

People, my father would say, pose a greater difficulty than work itself. 

It’s unfortunate but true. 

What motivates an employee, peer, or supervisor to intentionally engage in deceitful behavior, causing harm to both their team and the individuals they are responsible for?

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Well — here are a few reasons to start. 

  1. Self-Interest
  2. Office Politics 
  3. Competition
  4. Conflict Management
  5. Lack of Trust and Collaboration

Dealing with conniving people in a professional setting can be challenging, but it’s important to maintain your professionalism and handle the situation effectively.

Here are some of the strategies to consider when facing conniving individuals:

1. Remain calm and composed 

Trust me — your gut feeling is spot on. 

Your first instinct is to round-house kick them. 


Maintaining your professionalism is worth more. 


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This person will thrive on your hurt. 

Take deep breaths, maintain positive body language, and practice active listening when interacting with them.

Easier said than done. 

2. Stay focused on your goals

Ask yourself what matters. 

What is in the best interest of your team? 

Clearly define your goal and don’t let anything get in the way. 

Prioritize your actions and avoid getting entangled in unnecessary conflicts or distractions caused by conniving individuals. 

There is only one person who truly can affect you. 


3. Be aware and observant

Pay attention to people’s behaviors and actions.

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Understanding their patterns and motives can help you anticipate their moves and devise appropriate strategies.

What do they want? When do they cause disruption? 

For example, your fellow department lead sends you an email demanding you take action on something they have full control over. 

This is a classic case of someone on a power trip. 

Why do they want power? Potentially it’s because it makes them feel of value or they are gunning hard for a promotion. 

Either way. Their actions are revealing when you look closely. 

4. Document everything 

This type of person will often smile to your face and go out of their way to compromise your efforts. 

Keep your interactions in the black and white. 

Email or text them. 

Record important conversations, interactions, or any unethical behavior.

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This documentation can serve as evidence or support when addressing the issue with relevant parties.

Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that but stick to documenting facts and witnesses. 

5. Build a strong network

Develop relationships with trustworthy colleagues and supervisors who can provide support and guidance. 

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Sharing your experiences with them can lend perspective and allow you to strategize effectively.

Find a loved one that you can connect with and simply vent. 

Once you’re done venting — buy them a nice meal and thank them. 

6. Communicate clearly and assertively

Ensure your communication is both clear and confident. 

Strive to maintain politeness while also expressing firm boundaries and professional concerns. 

Refrain from participating in gossip or spreading negativity, as these actions only contribute to chaos and create a toxic work environment.

7. Maintain integrity

Do not compromise your values or engage in unethical behavior.

Do what is right for your team. 

Stay true to who you are. 

Remember, maintaining professionalism in the face of conniving people is a valuable skill that can help you grow personally and professionally. 

As unfortunate as it is. Dealing with these types of people will only make you better. 

View it as an opportunity to learn. 

Seek appropriate resources so you can handle such situations with grace and integrity. See below for some great books. 

Happy reading, 


Additional Resources

  1. Books:
     — “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton

 — “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare

 — “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success” by Kevin Dutton


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