The Diplomatic F&%!-You
10 ways to stick it to a coworker publicly—without getting your hands dirty.
1. Loudly, at 6 p.m.: "You leaving early? Man, it's so great you can get away with that."
2. Preface a remark by saying "With all due respect..."
3. Take his newly hired subordinate to lunch on his first day.
4. "Casual Wednesday?"
5. On a conference call: "That's funny. I thought we went over that last week."
6. Volunteer to run a meeting he usually runs.
7. Beat him to the office in the morning and start all conversations with "When Steve gets in..."
8. In response to an update on which upper management was CC'd: "Please send updates when there's something new to report."
9. Within earshot of the boss the day after a company happy hour: "How you feeling today?"
The Next Generation of Office Politicians
They may not be positioned to angle for your job—yet—but underlings shouldn't be ignored.
THE HOT INTERN
She bats her eyelashes at your boss; he asks you to talk to her about her career. The only way to play this one is to keep it strictly professional. Invite her to lunch, but make a show of inviting the male interns, too. The office letch never gets ahead.
THE BOSS'S INTERN
You could work him for a good word to his uncle, but the best he'll be able to give you is a family anecdote. Let your coworkers fight over who gets to take him to drinks while you get the boss's respect by treating his nephew like any other entry-level person.
He sends mass e-mails soliciting sponsors for the charity 5K he's running, and you hear your boss express admiration. Pledge the minimum and, at the next staff meeting, remind everyone that company e-mail should be used for work-related communication only.
THE AMBITIOUS NEW GUY
He's been out of college for five minutes and he already has face time with your boss to discuss his ideas. Offer to mentor him early on—it'll give you the authority to describe him to colleagues as "a good kid, but kind of young."
He spends his afternoons on IM, but when you walk out at 7 p.m., he's still at his desk because "it's just been such a crazy day." Mention that the boss has been complaining about late-night e-mails' interrupting his family time.
THE HIGHER-UP'S ASSISTANT
If you treat him extra nicely, you might get some inside information. That said, the reality is that he poses no threat to your progress—at the end of the day your superior values only his ability to schedule lunch.