14 warning signs a colleague is subtly sabotaging you at work

Navigating workplace dynamics can be challenging, and it gets even harder when you have a colleague who’s very difficult to work with.

But how can you separate a coworker who’s just annoying or frustrating from a colleague who’s actively trying to undermine you?

There are certain specific things to look for when it comes to a coworker who’s intentionally trying to sabotage you at work. 

Here’s what to watch out for: 

1) They withhold important info from you

Your colleague consistently withholds information or excludes you from important discussions and updates.

It’s not random, either.

The more you think about it and look into details the more obvious it becomes that they’re actively locking you out. 

They keep info from you that you need in order to succeed and successfully complete your tasks. 

This ties into the next point…

2) Excluding you from joint ventures 

They collaborate with others but deliberately exclude you from joint projects or initiatives. It may seem like no big deal at first, and maybe it’s not such a big deal.

But when it becomes a repeated pattern that occurs over and over again, you owe it to yourself to take it seriously.

This ongoing exclusion is not a temporary mood or caprice, it is much more likely a concerted effort to sabotage and undermine you at work.

3) They keep resources away from you to sabotage you

When you’re dealing with a colleague who sabotages you at work, another common thing to watch out for is that they actually withhold resources you need. 

This may come in the form of giving you the oldest equipment at the office, letting you use old tools or delaying your access to vital services and resources that you need. 

In whichever form it comes, a coworker who denies you what you need to get the job done is usually trying to recap your actual job performance and efficacy.

4) They undermine your ideas and pitches

They downplay or dismiss your ideas in meetings, making it difficult for you to gain support for your initiatives. 

Although they may throw token support your way, or condescendingly not and give you a thumbs up now and then, this coworker makes it clear that you are seen as lesser at your workplace and that your ideas are either unoriginal and easily dismissed or bad to start with. 

In such a way they continuously sideline you from having much influence at your job or gaining a promotion or real recognition.

5) They take credit for work you did

Your colleague consistently takes credit for your contributions or ideas, either subtly or overtly. 

For many of us, we would hope that such Behavior ends in grade school, but the truth is that many people continue to do this throughout their lives. 

It is especially common in a workplace where a narcissistic or manipulative colleague will take credit for work you have done while also actively downplaying your own contribution. 

This is particularly commonplace in group endeavors where you have all worked together but this toxic colleague then elevates their own role and downplays yours.

6) They try to start fights with you 

Toxic coworkers are not above instigating a fight just to make you look bad. 

They may find your weak point or topics and controversies that upset you and then try to set you off at work and make you lose your cool. 

By doing this, they hope to make you look unstable and irresponsible, negatively coloring your future prospects within the organization and making you lose your reputation among colleagues as well.

7) They spread rumors about you

You hear rumors or gossip about you that could potentially damage your reputation within the company. 

Rumor spreading is another one of those habits that most of us would prefer to think of as a juvenile or High School activity. However it often continues into the workplace, especially in organizations where people end up socializing quite a bit at lunch breaks and various in-between stages. 

When there are nasty rumors spreading about you it’s not just emotionally upsetting, it can also negatively impact your actual job assessment and your success in your position.

things you should never gossip about 14 warning signs a colleague is subtly sabotaging you at work

8) Sabotaging your links with other colleagues 

They actively work to damage your relationships with other colleagues or superiors. 

By severing and souring your ties with other employees, this toxic coworker weakens your position in the organization as a whole and makes you feel bad about yourself and your future at the company. 

They try to undermine your future prospects and make you feel that nobody likes you. In such a way you feel weakened and lessened.

9) They ignore you and interrupt you

These juvenile tactics are absolutely within the realm of possibility when it comes to a toxic colleague. 

By constantly stepping on your toes and making your daily work life difficult, they make you look worse around everybody else and exert their dominance over you. 

This is essentially workplace bullying, and it is completely unacceptable. It often emerges as a pattern with one or two particular coworkers, and tends to grow worse and worse unless dealt with.

10) Disrupting your meetings and presentations

Disrupting your meetings and presentations is another behavior of a coworker who is trying to sabotage you. 

They will do this in various ways, including by asking way too many questions, casting doubt on your competence, speaking over you or telling jokes while you’re speaking. 

It quickly becomes clear that it’s not just a joke: they’re trying to sink you and make sure your future in your job is an unfortunate one.

11) Passively-aggressively undermining you

Regularly displaying passive-aggressive behavior, such as backhanded compliments or sarcastic remarks is a trademark of the toxic work colleague.  They hope to make you look horrible and lose confidence in yourself. 

If you already feel insecure in your work or have elements of imposter syndrome that you’re struggling with, this can have a devastating effect. 

You start finding yourself wondering if they just might be right: are you the problem after all? 

12) Being two-faced in their performance reviews

Your colleague provides inconsistent feedback, praising you in private but criticizing you in public. 

When they are around you face to face, they have nothing but good things to say. 

However, once you are no longer in their view they are spreading all sorts of negative performance reviews about you and commentary about your work and personal behavior. 

The result is that you are drastically undermined and weakened in your work performance.

13) Micromanaging your every move

Your colleague excessively micromanages your work, creating unnecessary obstacles and hindering your productivity. 

They micromanage your every move and look over your shoulder, whether or not they are actually supposed to be in a supervisory position. 

In doing this, they make you feel a constant sense of oppressiveness as if you are being monitored and judged unworthy. 

You may even begin to make more mistakes and have more anxiety on the job because of knowing how much they are watching and constantly critiquing you.

14) Mixing professional and personal together

Coworkers who try to sabotage you will often mix together the professional and the personal. 

They may try to bring your personal life issues into the aspects of your job, or get you worked up about things going on in your personal life. 

They may also flirt with you or otherwise distract you from your work in ways that make it difficult to fully separate your vocational and personal life. 

Even if it starts spontaneously, these kinds of situations can quickly evolve into a semi-intentional sabotage situation.

What should you do next?

It’s important to approach these situations with caution and professionalism. 

If you suspect sabotage, consider documenting specific incidents, maintaining open communication, and seeking guidance from HR or a supervisor to address the issue appropriately.

You have the right to work in an environment that’s respectful and has basic fairness. 

If that’s not the case, it is worth your while to take the above steps to fight back. 

Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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