tag Sign Up for our Newsletter
Site Logo
Don’t miss out on the art world’s most entertaining newsletter - every Friday. And career news every Tuesday.
Become a members
How To Deal With That Art Girl Who’s Trying To Sabotage You
What to do when rivalry goes too far...
Career 19 Sep 2023

Image off Kill Bill Movie scene via mental floss
Unfortunately, in most roles in the art world there is probably going be that one pesky co-worker who (dun dun dun) tries to sabotage you. A little bit of friendly competition can’t hurt though, hey? Not always… So when a rivalry goes too far, what do you do? If you’ve ever dealt with a co-worker who always attempts to prove that they are better than you by serving out some salty sabotage, you’re not alone.
Here are our top 5 tips on how to nip it in the bud before it completely takes over your working life.

Think about your sabotage’s motives

Does it even have anything to do with you? Perhaps there is an underlying trust issue or it is that they simply don’t understand what you do or what your capabilities are? Whatever it is, the first most important thing for you to do is uncover what the issue is through open communication. Careful questioning, probing and listening should help you figure out why. Once you realise why, that realisation may not necessarily change their behavior, but it will change the way you view it. Once you stop taking it so personally, it will make it much more tolerable. So, before you take any action, find the motives behind why someone’s constantly trying to sabotage you.  In most cases it’s down to jealousy, so chill and think about your next plan of action.
Image of Uma Therman in Kill Bill via MovieWeb

Don’t waste time trying to sabotage your sabotager

Don’t waste your time trying to sabotage the person who’s attempting to sabotage you! Trust us, going back and fourth will only become time consuming, exhausting and ruin both of your careers! As tempting as it is to be passive-aggressive or to dish it right back, remember it will not enhance your career prospects and may land you in trouble. Instead, spend your time and energy on something positive elsewhere at work and in your career.

Call your rival out
If you feel like your co-worker is taking the sabotage to the next level, it’s time to call your rival out. Communicate directly with the person in question, but  do so in private. The last thing you want is a public feud. When you have the conversation, it’s important to be direct and stick to the facts. Why? Because most of the time your sabotager may even be unaware they’re doing something wrong, once you point it out, they may even try to correct you, so give specific examples and stick to the facts.
Image of Kill Bill still via NME website

Use the competition to motivate you

A great way to tone down an unhealthy rivalry is to shift the focus on competing with yourself. Instead of wasting all your energy trying to one-up your co-worker, focus on how to perform in a way that helps move the company and yourself forward. Remain focused on your goal and do not react emotionally to the situation. Results will speak louder than your sabotager’s words and actions.

Ask your manager or colleagues for advice
Managers generally don’t want to get involved and have bigger fish to fry. So problem-solving on your own, should always be your first move when it comes to dealing with your work enemy. But, if calling your rival out and dealing directly with the person isn’t working and it’s affecting your work ethic, don’t be afraid to report the situation to your manager or another colleague. Approach it as means for advice, rather than a chance to be a snitch.
And finally when dealing with individuals whose aim is to steal the show by playing dirty, always remain professional; in the end taking the high road will always pay off.  Think toward the future. By focusing on your own future and developing your skills, you can overcome all kinds of competition.
Good Luck!
Text by Peigi Mackillop

You May Also Like

Weekly Wrap-Up
Weekly Wrap-Up
Hellos And Goodbyes
Hellos And Goodbyes
Navigating Your First 6 Months In Your New Job
Navigating Your First 6 Months In Your New Job
Say Hi to Spark - A Different Kind of Artfair in Vienna
Say Hi to Spark - A Different Kind of Artfair in Vienna
The Art News You Missed While You Stepped Out Of The Gallery
The Art News You Missed While You Stepped Out Of The Gallery
What Our Friends Think Of Our Art World Jobs
What Our Friends Think Of Our Art World Jobs


Curator – Public Programmes
Whitechapel Gallery - London, UK
Research Associate, Krasner & Pollock Exhibition
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, USA
Artist Liaison
Art Works Gallery & Advisory - Singapore
Artist Manager
Karimah Ashadu - Germany