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  • Writer's pictureOrganization Advisors Inc

“How to Recognize and Manage Adversaries” – Part 2

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

As summarized in Part 1, there are two types of opposition that you will encounter in an Organization. There is an opposition that opposes your views and/or opinions about a business matter for the purpose of bringing the best solution forward. They are called the right opposition. The right opposition will challenge you to think about another perspective that will add value to your Organization. They value you and care about your progress. We sometimes take their advice for granted because we may think they are not supporting us. Value this opposition.

There is an opposition that opposes you as an individual. They are called the wrong opposition. The wrong opposition will “always” go after your identity because of the lack of value they see within you and themselves. Their intent to help you or to create value is false, deceptive, and not legitimate. You often cannot change their responses or actions, but you can manage them effectively and/or release them from your domain. Manage this opposition.


There are two types of authorities that can be used to manage adversaries…Personal Authority and Positional Authority. Personal Authority is a person’s ownership and effectiveness of their knowledge, skills, experience, gifts, and resources for the benefit of creating value for others. Positional Authority is a person’s delegated authority from their Organization in which they have been selected, appointed, elected, or designated to a leadership position that influences the thinking and actions of others for the purpose of achieving results. You can use a combination of these two authorities along with Role Clarity (an employee’s defined role on how they contribute to their Organization) to manage adversaries.

Here are 10 Strategies for Managing Adversarial Behaviors in Organizations:

  • Know your Personal Authority. Where does it align with your Organization, boss, peers, and/or employees? Your Personal Authority sets boundaries and domains that you are in charge of.

  • Determine who your opposition is and what type of authority they are trying to use. Is this authority legitimate to your Organization’s mission and leadership? Remember what I mentioned above…when their intent is false, their authority is not legitimate.

  • Direct them with Authority. When they approach you with doubt and deceit, let your response be, “No,” or that you don’t agree. Direct and remove them out of your domain. You set the agenda….you set the tone…you end the conversation…you are in charge! The less you say, the less they have to work with. The more you say, the more they have to initiate games and deceit. Here’s the litmus test…your response determines if the person will gain some control from you and how long he or she will hang around. They will try to use false control to deceive, discredit, manipulate, attack you, etc. Don’t engage them in conversation or a dialogue. This opposition needs something from you so remember, you can set the parameters. They will scatter.

  • Listen to your intuition. When a person constantly flatters you or gives you what your “gut” says is insincere, put on the brakes. Sincere accolades give specific praise with genuine intent.

  • Don’t be deceived by feeling sorry for this person. This person usually likes to play the victim. Your task is to quickly remove them from your domain. How would you handle a venomous snake? I don’t think you would have second thoughts of getting a venomous snake removed out of your domain. Yes, people exhibiting adversarial behaviors can strike at a moment’s notice when you think about giving them a second chance. When you are nice to them, you’ll never know when they will attack…and they usually will.

  • Don’t accept their negative energy. When they approach you with a suggestion of self-doubt and negativity, use silence and remove them out of your domain. If you need to communicate with them, focus on positive solutions. They usually will not want to stick around because they need negativity.

  • Redirect their accusations. When they point out a mistake you made to your boss or the Organization, take charge and redirect the conversation to discuss how you improved that process and created value. They are trying to instill fears and doubts within you. Remove these accusations and negativity from the root by taking charge and redirecting.

  • Cut off your opposition at the root by surrounding yourself and the Organization with positive energy. This will drain the negative atmosphere of these folks. Keep pouring in the positive energy so they will suffocate. You will wear them down and they will not want to stick around. People with adversarial behavior feed off of negativity…starve them.

  • Take the offensive approach with this opposition. Do not get on the defensive with them. Be in charge and take the offensive approach. When you are on the offensive, the opposition will eventually and accidentally expose their tactics and agenda. They need an atmosphere of negativity and fear to fuel their agenda. Remember that you are pouring in the positive energy and draining their negativity.

  • Get back to focusing on the important business of the organization! These people don’t like being exposed and will usually find someone else who is not using these strategies.

The more you grow in confidence in recognizing and managing adversaries, the more you will enjoy creating value for your Organization and advancing.

Organization Advisors, Inc.

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