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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Have You Ever Felt Like a Crow To Someone Else’s Fox?

Chapter 4: Who To Trust At Work?  Part 10

The last few posts have described the Scorpion, the first of three personality types that can help you evaluate a coworkers priorities and values.  I define a Fox as someone who is motivated primarily by self-advancement, and who particular gift of convincing people to act in a certain way.  Or to put it less kindly, a Fox is a manipulator.  I picked the name based on the fox in Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Crow.”[i]

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “Good-day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.” The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: Do not trust flatterers.”

A Fox is the type of person who can convince you that “black is white.”  The Fox in the office can be charming or critical, but is always a master of “upward management.”  Often, a Fox on the rise has a protector in a more senior role in the company.  In the next post, we’ll look at a few true stories of the Fox in action.

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