I often consult people who are on teams, departments, project groups, or similar. I've also been on a number of teams myself over the years.
A question that sometime arises in OD training is, "Is it possible to 'get ahead' at work without leaving others behind?" It's a great question for anyone who works with others, because often our coworkers are our friends, maybe even our family, or at the very least people we care about, people who have their own families, are fighting their own personal battles — we want to look out for them while also looking out for ourselves.
Ha ha! Kidding! Screw that! We want more MONEY and POWER all for OURSELVES, right gang? I'm Number 1! I'm Number 1!
So here are three proven backhanded compliments you can tell your boss that aim to upgrade your position by diminishing a coworker's.
- The Teaser Compliment. What it does: Praises with an open loop at the end, creating questions in the boss's mind about what you are leaving out. Example: "We all like Bob—that's never been in question..." (Usage Tip: After the last word in the compliment, tighten your lips and stare slightly off to the side with a mildly sad look in your eyes!)
- The Lonely Compliment. What it does: Praises a coworker's personality or other quality not directly related to his work skills. Example: "Bob has a great heart." (Usage Tip: Say it while softly sighing!)
- The Situational Compliment. What it does: Praises a coworker's behavior that manifests itself selectively. Example: "Bob is such an awesome teammate when he really tries!" (Hot Tip: Shrug on the last word!)
Practice these and you too can appear positive yet cooly disassociated from compassion or loyalty to anyone other than your boss. It's a WIN/WIN — for your position AND your ego.
Go get 'em, sport!