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How to spot workplace frenemies

Workplace Frenemies
Workplace Frenemies
ICMA Photos

To your face, this person is your best friend but when you are not around this person does their best to discredit you. Who is that untrustworthy person of which I speak? I am talking about your workplace frenemie, we all have them whether you are aware of it or not. Here is how you can identify your frenemie as well as solutions for dealing with them:


The BFF typically agrees with everything you say, regardless of how they really feel. Let’s call this person “Backstabber Betty or Bob” This person will agree with you about ways and ideas things can be improved within the department, but behind your back, they are telling anyone who will listen how ludicrous your idea is.

Solution: At the next staff meeting, bring up your ideas and suggestions and then say, “Backstabber and I were talking about this earlier in the week and we both feel this is a good idea, right Backstabber?” Being called out will force the backstabber to be honest about how they really feel.

The Sneak

The Sneak is the type of person that tells others they do not really like you, this person will typically only talk to you or initiate a conversation with you when others are not around. We will call this person “Slimy Sue or Sam”. The slimes are bad for morale and cannot be trusted. The slimes keep a lot of tension in the workplace and place negative thoughts into the weak minds of their followers.

Solution: The next time the slime tries to talk to you incognito, ask them why they never talk to you when others are around. The best way to deal with this type of person is to confront them head on in a professional manner. The slimes will typically deny they are behaving in this manner. You may not get an admission of their guilt, but at least Mr. or Mrs. Slime will know that you are aware of their actions.

The News Reporter

The News Reporter is the type of person that reports everything you do to the boss. This person has no other mission in life except monitor your actions like the Secret Service. I like to call this person “Channel 5 News”. You always know when Channel 5 is on the scene because they will often comment on your actions. For instance, they may say, “Did you just get here?” What Channel 5 really means is; you are 5 minutes late and I’m going to tell”

Solution: Do not waste your time discussing the problem with Channel 5; they will typically become defensive when you confront them. Instead, talk to your supervisor and ask them to talk to Channel 5. If Channel 5 is not a manager or supervisor then why are they monitoring your actions? Make sure you let your manager or supervisor know that Channel 5’s behavior makes you feel uneasy and is somewhat weird.

Not all workplace frenemies come in the form of your co-worker. Your boss could also be your frenemie and could easily fit into any of the roles identified above. If your boss is your frenemie then there is only one solution. Sit down and talk to your boss. There may be a breakdown of communication between the two of you. Open and honest dialogue will alleviate a lot of tension and repair any damaged relationship. In a perfect world, the workplace should be a place of camaraderie, make sure you do your part to help keep drama out of the workplace by dealing with unpleasant situations in a timely and professional manner.


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