The Trouble With Troublemakers

Chapter 63 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

WHEN SOMEONE AT WORK talks badly about you behind your back, puts you down, interferes with your work, makes you mad, or otherwise makes trouble for you, the natural tendency is to focus on them. You want to get back at them. You want to talk badly about them behind their back, put them down, make trouble for them in some way.

But I want you to consider the possibility that returning like for like is a mistake. Look at the three practical steps below - all of them effective ways to deal with troublemakers - and notice: None involve talking about, thinking about, or speaking with the troublemakers themselves, because that doesn't work. Here's what does work:

1. Do your work extremely well. Think of your level of excellence as a sliding scale, from doing-as-little-as-you-can-do-without-
getting-fired all the way up to doing-your-very-
best-every-second-you-are-at-work. At any given moment, you are somewhere between those two extremes. Move yourself further up the scale and you will feel more confident of your position. Doing your work well counteracts the feelings of insecurity a troublemaker can cause.

2. Keep your integrity level high. Doing anything unethical will increase the insecurity you feel. Conversely, the more you act with honesty and fairness, the better you will feel about yourself and about your position at work.

3. Stay in good communication with everyone else. A common response to feeling that someone is out to get you is to withdraw. But that's a big mistake. The universe of human opinion abhors a vacuum, and if a troublemaker says something bad about you and the listener hears nothing from you, guess what? The slanderous information will tend to hold the floor from lack of any other viewpoint. Your bosses and coworkers may be mature, rational people, but human emotions still influence their decisions, opinions, and conclusions. Stay in communication with people - not trying to prove anything, but just being yourself - and the reality of who you are will help negate any rumors about you.


DO THESE THREE and the threat from the troublemaker will be minimized. You can't really get rid of such an element for good. That's the trouble with troublemakers. They are bound to crop up now and then, as inevitably as a bad storm. If you try to argue with them or fight with them or use their tactics on them, you will lose. They've been at it longer than you.

Do your work to the best of your ability, conduct yourself honorably, and stay in good communication. Your position will be solid and the storm will pass over you without so much as a shudder.

Do your work exceptionally well, keep your integrity level high, and stay in good communication with everyone else.

Dale Carnegie, who wrote the famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People, left a chapter out of his book. Find out what he meant to say but didn't about people you cannot win over:
The Bad Apples

An extremely important thing to keep in mind is that judging people will harm you. Learn here how to prevent yourself from making this all-too-human mistake:
Here Comes the Judge

The art of controlling the meanings you're making is an important skill to master. It will literally determine the quality of your life. Read more about it in:
Master the Art of Making Meaning

Here's a profound and life-changing way to gain the respect and the trust of others:
As Good As Gold

What if you already knew you ought to change and in what way? And what if that insight has made no difference so far? Here's how to make your insights make a difference:
From Hope to Change

next: The Spirit of the Games

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 3). The Trouble With Troublemakers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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