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What to Do When Faced with Office Politics August 27, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Ever worked in an office that made you feel like a politician under attack? Welcome to the urban worker jungle. Yes, my friend. Politics is everywhere, including your work desk, cubicle or that tiny space that you call your working area. It’s breathing on your neck, inhaling the air around you, even sharing your coffee break. So how do you survive office politics? Here are tips to help you keep your wits… and your job:

Know the players.
Not everyone in your workplace likes to play the politicking game. Many of them will but there are a few good-natured people who prefer to swim against the ugly tide. Know who these people are and then identify those who are the biggest players in the arena.

From time to time, you might find yourself involved in their affairs directly or indirectly. Knowing who plays what with whom, when and how will help you determine your plan of action.

Understand the politicking person’s power in the organization.
There’s this misunderstanding that the only people who play office politics are higher-ups. Not really. Some of the most adept and notorious (and deadly) players are not really management or supervisory level. Many of them may work at a level where they are simply just part of the staff yet surprisingly strategically placed, allowing them to play their own game.

Why you need to know that person’s politicking power is simple. Some of them are negligible and thus, not worth your time or effort. However, there are some that you have to pay careful attention to. What they have to say may just contain information that you’ll find useful.

Be diplomatic.
Ever met one of those people who burst out like dynamite at the littlest provocation? Don’t you ever, ever, ever, ever lose your cool like them. One, it can undermine your position, reputation and whatever authority you may have. Second, it leaves a tasty bit of story behind you that people will be talking about for a long time to come.

Instead of acting like a firecracker, keep your cool. Be diplomatic. You don’t need to take sides all the time. Remember, you are your own side and have an opinion that’s all your own. When things are especially heating up, avoid making comments that’s derogatory to either side so you don’t add fuel to the fire.

Build relationships with effective people.
You’ll know who these people are. They are those who get things done, have clear goals and are reliable both as workers and team players. Instead of starting coalitions with people who have nothing much to offer, aim to have stronger ties with people who actually work and can produce results.

Of course, that is not to say that you should completely ignore those who can’t contribute. It’s just that when it comes to building alliances, you must keep yours strategic. If people you hang out with are ineffective, they could either tow you under or you could offend them for being ‘better’.

Don’t participate in useless gossip.
Gossip is a fact of life. It’s not going to disappear soon. When faced with office gossip, avoid active participation, especially if it’s the personal kind. For work-related gossips, however, just be a listener and get as much information as you can but make sure it’s accurate. There could be some very useful stuff there that can help you in your career.

Be positive.
If you’re ever involved in nasty office politics, keep your cool. It will be easier for you to think rationally than if you let your emotions run amok. Be objective, gather sufficient information before you make any plan of action.

Don’t let office politics get you down. It will test your character and there will be valuable lessons to learn, so take careful note.

What’s your story?

Have you ever been burned with office politics?  How did you handle it?  Share it here and help others learn.

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