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White Anting

Have you ever been "white-anted"?

White-anting is an Australian term for the process of internal erosion of a foundation. The Macquarie Dictionary says the verb "to white-ant" means "to subvert or undermine from within".

The term is derived from the action of termites (white ants) eating the inside of wooden building foundations, often leaving no outward evidence, until the structure crumbles.

Ever had that feeling that things are not quite Ok in a relationship at work? Perhaps you had a friendship with a work colleague and things have turned a little sour and you are not sure why. You're noticing some tension and your colleague seems to run hot and cold.

Years ago I had a close relationship with a work colleague whom I described as a “friend”. We worked well together and would often meet up on weekends or after work. I genuinely liked this person and we had lots of fun together.

We would talk about our lives and our families and she would offer her opinion on any issues that concerned me. Over time I began to notice she would ask about my worries if she was feeling down or upset about something in her life. She would then give me lots of advice and she seemed to "perk up". I also began to notice that whenever we were in a group, she would often say things that were “putdowns.” She would say she was only joking. At work she would openly draw attention to my mistakes or work that wasn't up-to-date but only when other people were within earshot.

Then, suddenly she would do something kind, make time to have a chat or ask me to spend time with her at lunch.

Over time, I felt the atmosphere at work change as I started to feel “on the outer”. I couldn't quite put my finger on what had changed. It never seemed enough to make a fuss about.

One day a temp asked me about the relationship between me and my colleague. She had overheard a conversation about me between my colleague and my manager and related the contents of the conversation. It was designed to undermine me.

I was shocked, I did not know what to do about it. I could confront her, ignore it or talk to the manager. In the end I decided to ignore it. After all it was secondhand information.

Gradually things felt worse rather that better. I felt by taking the higher road the whole thing would settle down but it never did. The atmosphere at work deteriorated.

I know now that I was being “white-anted”

People who white ant are usually unhappy unless they are creating unhappiness at work or at home. Sadly they are usually fairly influential with others and are quite manipulative. It is very common in people who have passive aggressive tendencies.

I began to put in boundaries. I stopped confiding in her and no longer went to lunches or caught up on the weekends. I distanced myself and over time, she stopped seeking me out.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you deal with it?

If you are being “white-anted” and need healthy strategies link here for an appointment

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