How To: Win Over Your Work Frenemy

So you messed up by not getting buy-in, rubbing people the wrong way or having a bad day that resulted in you strutting around with an entitled chip on your shoulder. That’s OK. It happened. It’s fixable. It’s not the end of the world, even if it feels that way. We’re human and even us Boss Bitches can’t be on top of our work game everyday. And when that happens, you should take that work blunder into relationship rehab ASAP.

Here are three tools for your work-relationship first aid kit:

Praise them behind their back.

If you really have beef with someone, praising them to their face might feel too fake for you, and come off too disingenuous to them. Instead, try to say something nice behind their back in a way that you know will ultimately get back to them. Here’s a sample scenario: You are annoyed with Sally. Sally is annoyed with you. Sally gives you RBF (resting bitch face) when she sees you, and you can barely eek out a “Good morning, Sally!” So, saying anything more like “Nice Blouse, Sally!” might require a cocktail. You and Sally are working on the same project. You tell a co-worker or even your supervisor that Sally is doing a great job and has contributed a lot to the project. That person tells Sally that you said that and gives her an “’atta girl.” Sally never gives you RBF again and says, “Good Morning! Nice Blouse!” Boom.

Research them.

OK, this doesn’t mean going full-on “Single White Female.” But, why not use some of the Instagram stalking skills (that you use for potential love interests to learn more about their hobbies and interests) and use that for bonding purposes? The more you break the ice with them, the more these tidbits will help you swim yourself back into good graces. Learning more about them will likely soften your heart as you see them as more of a person and not just a work frenemy, which will motivate you to make nice faster and hopefully more genuinely. This is is a tactic used by high-powered CEOs all the time. Studies have shown that the best negotiators spend the most amount of time researching the people they are negotiating against, and therefore get deals done in a fraction of the time. Knowing a potential enemy will make them a friend in no time…or at least less time than others.

Be a sweetie.

Remembering your manners can go a long way. Say “please” and “thank you.” Don’t be passive aggressive, but find something genuinely awesome that they did and either ask them for help with it or thank them for it. Everyone, even the nastiest of them, has good qualities. Find them. It will make it easier to win them back over if you start highlighting those for them (and for yourself). Did they come up with a cool email signature with the company logo? Say, “hey, I noticed that great new signature you have on your email, would you please mind showing me how you did that?” People generally love sharing their opinions and teaching you things they are good at. Relish in the time they are relishing in themselves. Then, notice something they did that helped you or your team, even the small things. Did they bring cupcakes into a meeting? Say, “hey, thank you for doing that! They were thoughtful and delicious.” Pay the kindness forward and you’ll get that karma coming back your way.

Pay the kindness forward and you’ll get that karma coming back your way. Click To Tweet

In the end, there may be the need to bury the hatchet with the person face-to-face. It’s uncomfortable, but sometimes it is the only way. The important thing here is to own up if you did something out-of-line; or if you’re not sure why there is a beef, calmly and diplomatically ask what the issue is and what can be done to resolve it. You’ll probably gain some respect from the other party as well for wanting to get it out on the table and move past it.

No matter what you aspire to be the boss of, people around you at work can be the biggest asset to you at work. Sure, sometimes these people will be real lemons. You can explain it in any way you want: “They’re just jealous” or “They are trying to bring me down because I’m above them.” But that mentality doesn’t help you, or the problem. So instead, make fucking lemonade and drink it with your new friend (former frenemy).


A simple 12-step plan to leap over the wealth gap once and for all.