Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Were You Ever Betrayed In the Office? Chances Are It Was a Fox That Did It

Chapter 4: Who To Trust At Work Part 11

In the last post, I used Aesop’s fable The Fox and The Crow to define a Fox at work as someone who gets by on flattery. Now compare Aesop’s fox with the following true stories.

Story 1: “Jack,” a Director at a national telecommunications company, laments not recognizing that his colleague as a Fox.

“My colleague and I were in contention for a promotion.  She went overboard to be my buddy and friend, to be helpful.  At the same time she was damning me with faint praise all over the company.  ‘Jack is really good at what he does.  Jack is a really good leader, meets project deadlines but….’  That was her technique.  It planted enough doubt about me that I wasn’t selected.  One of my reports who was close to someone in this other woman’s department told me about how she did it, how long she did it, how many people she did it with.  That was my experience with betrayal.  I thought she was my buddy.”

Story 2: “Liz,” a Senior Manager in the software industry describes her friend “Susie” who got ahead at her expense.  “She [Susie] would present my stuff and her stuff, but would never tell them I generated it.  She was very sweet about it, saying things like ‘I didn’t mean it that way.’  But she did.  She accelerated her career that way.  She got a lot of visibility by indirectly taking credit for other people’s work.  I don’t know how she made it work.  She was very charming and managed her bosses well.” 

Now that you have some idea how to recognize the spoor of the Fox, in the next post, I will offer strategies for how to deal with one.  What is your experience with betrayal, and how have you tried to prevent it from happening again?

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  1. Greg Marcus says

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  2. MelindaNC says

    I’ve been in the chemical engineering business for over 20 years but I still remember the Fox.
    Nice guy and very much into the department “vision”. His gift was schmoozing the upper management. When things were going south with the company and new management came in, then his influence faltered. Luckily I started to wake up to the game he was playing. I found another job and handed in my resignation. Guess what, he had the IT department lock away my computer within an hour. So much for being my really good pal! Needless to say, I gave 2 weeks notice but did not come back in. I told my peers that I would gladly return but let me know when the computer with all my files was available.
    Funny thing, at the time, I don’t think the Fox remembered that I had worked to set up the office computers and I knew everyone’s computer password and I also knew how to set up a ‘delay” to start reformatting of my hard drive. Guess I’m too honest to do such things.

    • Greg Marcus says

      Hi Melinda, Thank you for sharing your story. It brings a smile to my face because you escaped the Fox before he could do a number on you. (I don’t know if you’ve read the next post about the Fox and the Wolf, but if you do you’ll see what I mean.)

      And locking your computer after you resign? A Fox is extremely poor at execution, so poor in this case the he did not realize that you could have stollen anything you wanted prior to resigning. It sounds like his attention was upward, and he had no concept of what you really did.


  1. […] the last post, I shared stories of people who had negative experiences dealing with a Fox.  While a Fox can talk […]

  2. […] met Liz and Jack who did not recognize the spoor of a Fox, which had negative career consequences, and […]