Your former workplace enemy shows up at your new job – what now?

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One day you come into work merrily sipping your coffee, mentally preparing to make the best of the day ahead of you. You’d heard rumors that a new person is starting, and you’re excited about a new addition to your team. It means your workload will be lessened, and you’ll be able to focus on accomplishing more important tasks. But when your boss stops by to introduce you to your new counterpart, your stomach drops.

As if ripped from the pages of a soap opera script, you’re standing face-to-face with a workplace arch nemesis from a previous job. Two thoughts cross your mind: “Oh @@##” and, “OK, try to make the best of this awkward situation.”

The likelihood of this happening may be slim, but it’s not impossible. It’s common to leave a job to escape a bad work environment or mean-spirited co-workers. But what do you do if, when you left, you made your not-so-loving feelings clear to your unfriendly co-workers, only to face them once again in your new job?

“Eat crow,” as they say.

As much as you can sit at your desk and claim that work is work, and you’re not there to make friends, it’s not that easy. You’ll have to either mend the relationship or put on your game face and make the best of an awkward situation.

Kaley Warner Klemp and Jim Warner, authors of “The Drama-Free Office,” conducted research with more than 3,500 CEOs and their executive teams worldwide on this workplace quagmire.

“You might start this new relationship by offering the benefit of the doubt: Perhaps both of you have grown in your maturity since you last worked together and can shift to have a productive, collaborative relationship this time,” Klemp says. “The best place to start is by ensuring that you stay out of drama: Take responsibility, practice creativity and collaboration, empower others and enforce your own boundaries. Hopefully this other person will follow your lead.”

Great advice. This is one moment in your career when you have to make the conscious choice to take the high road. It’s your chance to get beyond any past issues you’ve had with this person and commit to starting fresh. But what if the other person wants to continue the war?

“Strive to remain understanding and compassionate toward your drama-prone ‘frenemy’ without feeling obligated to rescue them,” Klemp says.

Do you have workplace drama? Take one of Klemp and Warner’s assessments for tips on how to resolve issues in the workplace.

Have you ever worked with a former frenemy? If so, how did you work through the awkwardness and focus on moving forward?

Wonderful .gifs courtesy RealityTVGifs

  1. I totally disagree with the eatign crow statement as I was working, and my arch nemesis showed up at work. I went right into my bosses office & told my boss straight up that the person was my arch nemesis at my old job & provided him with several facts about his work ethics,or lack thereof & my concerns for the welfare of the team. I was very careful to stick to the facts, and make sure I was not slandering him, but Imade it very clear that he was difficult to work with & did nto adhere to company policies. And also that he made it hard to be productive & voiced my concerns about the effect such negative attitudes might have on the team. He noted my concerns, & made it very clear to me that if there was any issues he would see to it that they were promptly addressed. Well, it didn’t take long, less than a month & he was up to his old tricks of backstabbing & laying blame for his mistakes. As well as beign tardy to work almost every day by 15 minutes or more. He was soon let go, & we all went back to our happy workplace ways. My boss then made it a point to have me attend his interviews to assist in finding the right fit for the team.

    • Great point – if the situation is work-related as it sounds yours was, don’t be afraid to take your boss aside and let him know about your concerns. However, I’d warn people to not come across like a tattle-tale and to just seem whiny over what could be just personal differences. I think those who have personal issues need to rise above, but you make a valid point about notifying your boss. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Pingback: Your Former Workplace Enemy Shows up at Your New Job : HealthCare Professional Digest

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