Do you have an Adversary?

By Morag Barrett on June 28, 2016

Posted by Morag Barrett | June 28, 2016Do you have an Adversary?It pays to know the enemy—not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.  – Margaret ThatcherAdversaries are by far the most troublesome and stress-inducing of the four relationship dynamics I explore in my book Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships. It’s an unconditional relationship, in that an Adversary is consistently unsupportive and challenging to work with.This behavior may be overt—you, and others, know it’s happening and who the Adversary is. Or it can be covert—you know something is wrong, but you cannot identify the perpetrator. (Note that this article focuses on adversarial behavior you might be experiencing – not whether YOU are the adversary!) What I have come to realize is that there are very few people who get up in the morning and think to themselvesI hope that I am perceived as an Adversary today!It’s a very tiny percentage of people who might fall into this category, who don’t care what their reputation is, or the impact they have on others. For the majority, when we experience what we perceive as adversarial behavior it is usually the result of misaligned expectations, a difference in style or approach.The important learning is there is something you can do about it, so read on!Symptoms of an Adversarial RelationshipWe all end up with an Adversary at some point during our careers; hopefully you will not experience more than one (or be that one!) You know you are in an Adversarial relationship when:You are always looking over your shoulder, wondering when the next hit is coming.You are continuously presented with roadblocks that make it difficult for you to succeed.Your recommendations are met with opposition at every turn, and for no apparent reason.Your Adversary openly criticizes you to others and revels in your mistakes as evidence of your incompetence.You experience hostile behavior and highly charged interactions.You find yourself avoiding the individual.You are focused only on his or her needs and concerns in meetings.Conversations are more like a one-way monologue, with little acknowledgement of your point of view.Adversarial behavior can, at the extreme, be malicious, deliberately undermining your reputation. However, Adversarial relationships don’t happen by chance; if you have an Adversary you are not a victim. You’ve played a part, either through action or inaction.Having an Adversary will sap your energy for work. It’s both mentally and physically exhausting to be on heightened alert to sabotage. There is science behind the emotions that are evoked, and while we can’t prevent them, we can learn to mitigate them.How do you define ‘an adversary’ relationship?Who do you identify as an Adversary?Who might consider you their Adversary?Next week I’ll share how you can respond to adversarial behavior.Related ArticlesTags »Cultivating Winning Relationshipsleadership development denver Share
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