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5 Signs a Co-Worker May Be Out to Get You

5 Signs a Co-Worker May Be Out to Get You

By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer

Drama at the office can be a symptom of a stressed workforce -- or it could just mean there’s someone toxic on staff. No matter the cause, it’s especially alarming when it becomes clear a co-worker is out to get you. Know the signs in case it happens to you.

1. You find evidence someone has tried to access your computer. “If you get locked out of your computer and receive a message that you have entered the wrong password too many times, it could be a sign that one of your co-workers has tried to access your computer without your permission,” says career coach Cheryl Palmer. Pay attention to your password, change it often -- and make an effort to get it right the first time when you’re logging on. If you find that someone has been messing with your computer, Palmer says, “It’s possible that this person was looking for something to use against you.”

2. Your co-worker makes a point of highlighting your errors. Someone who’s out to get you will likely broadcast your errors -- no matter how small -- to a large audience in an effort to humiliate you and make you look bad. Red flags include forwarding an email from you to a wide variety of people with inaccuracies highlighted, questioning errors in your work publicly instead of a private email, and pointing out your mistakes to superiors in meetings.

3. Your co-worker is badmouthing you behind your back. This is a big sign they may be out to get you -- and most likely, you’ll hear about it from someone else. “Word gets around,” Palmer says. “Often other co-workers will tell you if another co-worker is saying bad things about you, especially to the boss.” Office gossip is rarely productive, but if you find out that your name is coming up in the grapevine, it may be time for some direct questions to your boss to figure out what’s being said about you -- and who’s saying it.

4. Your co-worker is trying to undermine your success. Whether your co-worker is sabotaging a current project or downplaying the project after it’s over, either action is a sign that the person is out to get you. One small comfort is that these actions are usually fairly obvious to your manager and other colleagues. Chances are they know about you co-worker’s bad behavior and you can hope they’re doing something about it. Document your work scrupulously to show who completed each task to protect your success and guard against people trying to bring you down.

5. Your co-worker is suddenly interested in your private life. That can be a sign she’s out to get you. If she asks about what you do in your free time, she may be looking for clues about your non-work habits that she can use to make you look bad. “Going out with friends for a drink” can turn into “a drunken rampage in public” if your co-worker wants to spread rumors. You might also find that your co-worker asks you about things you’re sure you’ve talked about only on Facebook, so ensure that your settings protect your privacy.

It can be devastating to realize that a co-worker is out to get you. Protect yourself by documenting your work, recognizing when someone is going too far, and bringing in your manager or HR, if necessary.

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