Leaders Avoid Seeking Revenge During Conflict

“Who should get this project?”

Greg trusted Monica’s judgement, and saw her as a future number two, and Greg’s current number two was out of the office, so this was a test.

“Jean-Paul,” Monica said with no hesitation.

“Really?” Greg mused. “I was sure you’d say Rich. This is right up Rich’s alley – and he’s been wanting something like this to round out his portfolio. But you think Jean-Paul?”

“Absolutely. Rich is kind of swamped right now. And J.P. has a lot of promise.” Monica was firm and convincing.

“Okay – I trust you. J.P. it is.”

Here’s what Greg didn’t know: Monica felt threatened by Rich. And, in a meeting two weeks ago, Rich was able to use some current information to sway a multi-disciplinary team away from Monica’s idea. Monica was just waiting for the time to burn Rich. And Greg gave it to her.

Revenge in the workplace is usually fairly subtle. It’s troubling, though, because of how long-term it is.

Unlike some of the other behaviors we’ve been covering, revenge doesn’t usually happen in the heat of the moment, but after some careful consideration.

We may not think we’re being malicious – we may view it as a way to right a perceived wrong, restore justice, and/or reassert ourselves.

We stew over being cheated or hurt. Fantasizing about getting even can feel good, though we don’t like to admit that. But then, acting on those fantasies takes things to a whole different level.

Most of us recognize that overt revenge won’t be tolerated, but this still leaves plenty of creative, backhanded, and petty ways to inflict damage on someone. Greg never caught on to what Monica did. Rich didn’t either. Getting passed over hurt him, and puzzled him, but he moved on.

What to do?

If you find yourself stewing and contemplating revenge, ask yourself, “Is all the time I spend dwelling on payback actually hurting me more than the other person? How could I be using this time and mental energy in a direction that takes me toward my actual goals, instead of trying to dash the goals of others?”

Alan Feirer Group DynamicThanks for reading,

Alan Feirer




This is the 14th post in a series discussing what not to do during conflict situations. Effective leaders avoid portraying these 18 behaviors during conflict. Follow along as we explore the negative impact of these behaviors, and what to do instead.
Post 1: Leaders Avoid Arguing During Conflict
Post 2: Leaders Avoid Belittling During Conflict
Post 3: Leaders Avoid Caving In During Conflict
Post 4: Leaders Avoid Being Defensive During Conflict
Post 5: Leaders Avoid Dismissing Others’ Opinions During Conflict
Post 6: Leaders Avoid Drama During Conflict
Post 7: Leaders Avoid Exaggerating During Conflict
Post 8: Leaders Avoid Exclusion During Conflict
Post 9: Leaders Avoid Finger-Pointing During Conflict
Post 10: Leaders Avoid Gossiping During Conflict
Post 11: Leaders Avoid Hyper-Criticism During Conflict
Post 12: Leaders Avoid Domineering During Conflict
Post 13: Leaders Avoid Passive-Aggressiveness During Conflict

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