Can you empathize with this mindset?
He never puts stuff away and never gets caught. I’ll just put this extension cord on the floor in the waiting room after hours – he’ll finally get blamed. I know I’m framing him. But, it’s justified because he does it all the time and never gets caught. I’m just creating a situation where he finally gets what’s coming to him.
Perhaps you can see the point of that thought, but hopefully you don’t actually follow through. To do so would be sabotage.
Sabotage is related to revenge, but goes further; it’s deliberate tampering with the work of others, or lying about the work of others.
Sabotage is ensuring that someone else fails.
It can be social sabotage, executed by lying about someone, or spreading rumors. In some cases, it can actually involve physical tampering, like the example above.
Sometimes we choose this extreme path when we lack the power to confront the other person; sometimes we want to advance our own position; and sometimes it’s simply because we want to express our anger without a direct clash.
There is a satisfaction in seeing the other person fail, but it requires us to suspend our normal understanding of right and wrong so that we can rationalize a behavior which, under normal circumstances, we would find reprehensible.
What to do?
Ask yourself, “What personal morals am I sacrificing?”
If you witness this in someone who reports to you, it is time to have very tough conversations about their future on your team.
I almost didn’t write about sabotage, as it’s rare. While it’s rare, it can happen, and it’s an unhealthy response to conflict.
There are productive ways to disagree and have healthy conflict.
This is the 18th and final post in an 18-part series discussing what not to do during conflict situations. Effective leaders avoid portraying these 18 behaviors during conflict and address them in others. Follow along as we explore the negative impact of these behaviors, and what to do instead.
Post 1: Leaders Address Arguing During Conflict
Post 2: Leaders Address Belittling During Conflict
Post 3: Leaders Address Caving In During Conflict
Post 4: Leaders Address Being Defensive During Conflict
Post 5: Leaders Address Dismissing Others’ Opinions During Conflict
Post 6: Leaders Address Drama During Conflict
Post 7: Leaders Address Exaggerating During Conflict
Post 8: Leaders Address Exclusion During Conflict
Post 9: Leaders Address Finger-Pointing During Conflict
Post 10: Leaders Address Gossiping During Conflict
Post 11: Leaders Address Hyper-Criticism During Conflict
Post 12: Leaders Address Overpowering During Conflict
Post 13: Leaders Address Passive-Aggressiveness During Conflict
Post 14: Leaders Address Seeking Revenge During Conflict
Post 15: Leaders Address Sarcasm During Conflict
Post 16: Leaders Address Withdrawing During Conflict
Post 17: Leaders Address Stonewalling During Conflict