How to Spot the Weasel in Your Office
July 21, 2016

How to Spot the Weasel in Your Office

by Brian de Haaff

Everyone is talking these days about “Pokemon Go.” Nintendo’s augmented reality game is sending kids and grownups wandering into the streets searching for Pokestops. The game reveals virtual creatures — hidden to the real world and accessible only to players.

But there is another hidden creature you should be on the lookout for — and this one is lurking around your work site.

Conflict at work is inevitable. And sometimes you do not see it coming. It often originates from a single source — a coworker who is quietly undermining your plans or threatening your success. I like to call this person the workplace weasel.

The pesky workplace weasel is not native to one type of job or place. It can be found stirring up trouble worldwide. But until someone comes up with a genius app that reveals nasty coworkers, we have to rely on our own primal instincts to spot them.

Here are five telltale signs that you are in the presence of a workplace weasel. These creatures are:

This person may appear perfectly harmless, even sweet. (Well, to your face.) That is precisely why you must watch your back. They will say anything — and may even cozy up to you — before weaseling in and causing mischief.

The workplace weasel never learned to share, and carried that bad habit into their professional life. A notorious hoarder, they stockpile knowledge, resources, opportunities, and credit. If asked to collaborate, the weasel only does so begrudgingly.

A mysterious, guarded creature, the weasel conceals true intentions and plans. If you have questions, you probably will not get a straight answer — at least, not right away. Be prepared to methodically probe for the truth.

Is there one colleague who seems to know and share all the workplace gossip? Weasels love digging up dirt on co-workers. Do not let your guard down. Password-locking your computer is always a best practice. With a weasel, it is critical to protect sensitive information from prying eyes — and to keep details of your personal life to yourself.

Know anyone who exhaustively pursues pet ideas — even after everyone agrees on a different direction? Derailing meetings is classic weasel behavior. You might need to be patient until they run out of energy or someone grabs a broom to gently nudge the weasel away.

Most of the time you will encounter friendly and well-meaning people in the workplace. But you do have to watch out for the occasional weasel. 

They can sneak into any organization, despite the company’s best prevention efforts. Awareness is half the battle, as well as a sense of humor. If anything, having a workplace weasel running about will keep you on your toes.

What other kind of rascals have you encountered in the office? Identify — and share!

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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