Make Your Enemies Your Allies

Written by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap

Having difficult players or indeed staff on your team is often destructive to team dynamics and your own mental health.

Ideally you should try to work with them instead of against them. But if your collaborative efforts fail, try one of these strategies instead:

Find a common ally.
Seek a third party whom the player trusts. A common ally may convince him of the benefits of working with you.

Wait for the right time.
Sometimes people need time and space before they can see your side. Put off communication until the right opportunity presents itself.

Recognise when to go elsewhere.
The effort of converting a difficult player is sometimes so great that you’re better off focusing your energy on the rest of the team. At this point irrespective of the players talents it may be important to cut them from the team as to engage the player further my create a negative effect on the team dynamic.

What happens if you are successful?
Even when you end a rivalry, your work isn’t necessarily done. That’s because the relationship is often about more than just the two individuals.
We all know people who seek to play to their advantage antagonism between others; some third parties might even view a blossoming partnership with trepidation or envy, triggering new negative emotions and rivalries.

You can head off this problem by framing your work as beneficial not just to you and your adversary but to the whole organization, which makes the reversal of rivalry in everyone’s interest.

This quick tip was adapted from “Make Your Enemies Your Allies” by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap.

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