Here's How To Deal With A Frenemy At Work

Here's some food for thought -- have you ever worked with someone who you thought was your friend only for them to turn on you?

Well, congratulations, because you've probably been sharing office space with a frenemy.

It's a situation former journalist Alice* knows a little too well.

Let's rewind back to 2015 when Alice* began working at a well-known magazine. It was there she met Sophie*, a charismatic colleague who she claims welcomed her into the fold "with open arms".

"She was so lovely to me," Alice told 10 daily. "Soon we would start catching up after work and even going out for dinner."

But then something strange happened.

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Alice said she soon discovered that Sophie and another employee were "hatching a plan to topple their editor".

"I didn't want to get involved -- but I thought given Sophie and I were friends, the plan wouldn't impact me."

She was wrong.

"When she ended up taking over the role of the editor she completely changed the structure of the office and my role ended up being made redundant," she said.

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What Is A Frenemy?

According to success coach Lisa Stephenson, a frenemy is someone who "behaves like they are your friend, but beneath the surface, they want to sabotage you".

Stephenson told 10 daily that frenemies are common in the workplace -- particularly among female employees.

"Not to be sexist, but women, in particular, can be undermining of other women and they do so in very strategic ways, including how they set up their relationships at work to serve themselves," she said.

Stephenson said that while "men do this to each other" women are guilty of doing it in a "more covert way".

"Women will actively seek out other women who they believe can help advance their careers," she said.

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How To Spot A Frenemy

See the loud colleague who constantly talks about how you're their "work bestie" or how much they "love you"? Yeah, sorry, but they're probably a frenemy, according to Stephenson.

"They are often very overt and loud about having a friendship with us," she said. "They will display public recognition of your work and then go on to provide positive feedback."

Just like Alice experienced with her former colleague Sophie, Stephenson said frenemies will usually "invite you to things to make it look like their friendship is inclusive -- when it's really about them figuring out how to use you."

Relationship psychologist Melissa Ferrari agrees, telling 10 daily that while you "might have moments that are great while socialising" be very careful not to give away too much personal information.

Go With Your Gut

Despite the tips, both Stephenson and Ferrari agree the best way to spot a frenemy is to "trust your gut".

"We can usually tell when someone is making a play for us," Stephenson said. "Trust your instinct and your intuition -- sometimes we don't as our ego takes over but when we really listen, we know."

Ferrari agrees, telling 10 daily that the moment we start to notice things at a "gut level" we should start paying attention.

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What To Do When You Think You've Got A Frenemy

Be strategic and plan ahead. That's the advice from Stephenson, who also warned us to be "extremely careful about anything we tell about ourselves that may be used against us".

"You also need to be very clear about what success means for you," she said. "Know what kind of behaviours you value -- is it kindness? is it empathy? Know what they are and act upon them consistently and focus on them instead of outside noise."

Ferrari echoed Stephenson's advice, adding that we need to make sure we continue to engage with our frenemy with "diplomacy and grace".

"You can be kind and gracious to someone like that because after all you still have to work with them," she said. "But keep everything at a more surface level."

Feature Image: Paramount Pictures