How to Survive Office Politics

An organization, which has more than one person working in it, is bound to have office politics. The frowns, the dislikes and the scowls become inevitable. It might not be possible to stay out of it but it is often wise to stay as far as possible from the whirlpool of office politics because it can effectively harm your career!

The Inevitable Office Politics
Office Politics often becomes inevitable due to the following reasons.
  • Due to the hierarchy of an organization or a company, some people naturally enjoy more power than the others. Many times, deterrent power can disrupt the office environment.
  • Getting ahead and making progress in career is almost everyone’s prior goal. This creates competition between people or groups and a ground for politics.
  • Decisions at office are affected by both work-oriented objectives and personal reasons, so there is additional capacity for clashes.
  • Like any other social group, personal likes and dislikes assist to make groups. A sense of competition or ‘Politics’ can develop, especially if the goals for various parties are mutual.
Understand The People
If you are new to the workplace, be alert but be quite! See how things work over here. Gather the following important information about your colleagues.
  •  See what motivates them.
  •  What do they aim to become?
  • What they actually think about the organization?
These things are never said directly. Instead, you would need to be real smart to deduce the results from general conversations you have with them. Be tactful and a very good listener. If you manage to listen to what the people want to say, you will get their confidence. As a newbie, don’t give your opinions especially if you disagree with someone, keep quiet as you would not want to earn people’s diffidence.
Gossip…a No No!
Say NO to gossip. It is true that newsletters get only a puny part of the story and the real tale is around the water coolers and during the lunch breaks! But it would be healthy to stay away from the tattlers. Obviously, you would not want to become main part of gossips someday! Don’t contribute to the stories that are already in the air. You don’t need to tell the world that you disagree with your colleague on certain matters.
Never Whine
Even if you feel that you have been the victim of prejudice, do not whine about it. If you were previously entrusted with a project and suddenly it was passed over to someone else, instead of complaining about it unnecessarily and for no good, find out the reasons for this decision. Analyze your past record; have you been slack or have you started behaving incompetent or is it the irresponsible attitude that you have adapted lately? Solve the problems that you have been facing. It is enviable being called a ‘problem solver’ rather than being a problem yourself!
Focus on Your Deeds
Office politics often targets the weakest of the people. Improve your following areas to become a strong and inviolable part of the game.
Personal Conduct:
Be formal and reasonable at the workplace. Never coquet with those under you. Don’t show an over-friendly attitude or display favoritism in any sort of matter.
Work Ethics:
If your work ethics are estimable, nobody is going to break you! Don’t be the one who shows up late and leaves the office early each day. Instead, strive to meet the level of expectations! Once in a while, go the extra mile to impress the people around you.
Be Reasonable
Whenever there is a dispute at the office, step forward and try to resolve the issue. Instead of fueling the fire, be a fire extinguisher. Never take sides. Be neutral and let the higher authorities make the formal decision. Do not show your opinion as it might earn you some enemies!
If you are being chafed by someone, it is advisable to stay calm. Never shout or holler. If you do so, not only you will lose your good reputation but you would become susceptible to future botheration. If you always act sanely, it is very unlikely that you become the subject of politics!
Never Say These Words
Avoid saying the following words.
That’s Not My Job
Delete this phrase from your office dictionary. Form your reputation as a team player and a logical problem solver. Once approached to look into a problem, it becomes your ‘job’ to do so.
I Didn’t Have Time to Finish That
You are being paid to do your work, never take it for granted. What makes a boss see red is the unreliability of an employee. Take your work seriously.
Do it, or Else…
Nobody likes being threatened. Such risky statements can effectively abridge your friends’ list and you can get the reputation of being an arduous coworker. These statements could make you an undesirable colleague and hence you become prone to the ugly office politics!
What to Say and When to Say
You can’t possibly stay silent all the time. It is important to learn when to stay quiet and when to say it all! Everyone can identify the ‘Gossip Girl’ in an office. Never discuss issues of vital importance with him. Instead look for a confidant in the workplace, share your insecurities, problems and issues with him.
Respect Counts, Especially Downwards
Generally people are courteous to those above them but they can easily forget the nice manners when dealing with their subordinates. Don’t show discriminatory dealing or look down upon a co-worker you think ‘won’t be of use to you’.
Respect others and earn respect in return; this will help you stay far from politics.
Don’t Let it Distract You
Whether it is about the new boss or an unsuccessful project, office politics can be really distracting. It can take your mind off from work. Don’t let that happen. It can require real concentration and effort, but focus on your work. Never give others a chance to discover defects in your work. Most people only care about the outcome and not the circumstances!
Manage the Negative Play
As it is said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
Your natural ability of mapping spheres of influence will reveal such groups or individuals who merely pursue their own interests and occasionally sabotage others for their benefit. You would definitely want to stay at an arm’s length from them but doing the opposite can be a beneficial tactic. However, act smart or it can become real dangerous.
Be very polite and courteous with them. But think twice before you utter a word in front of them as they can artfully distort anything to their advantage. Analyze the goals of these people and what prompts them. In this way, you will learn how to avoid their unsympathetic tactics and manage their negative politicking. Identify the weak areas (possibly weak work ethics) for these people because often insecure people rely on ugly schemes to get ahead.
In short:
  • By careful observation, you would see what works in your company’s culture and what does not. Observe others at work and recognize winning behaviors that you can adapt. There are also some broad-spectrum principles to observe that will stop harmful politics.
  • Don’t fuel the gossip, doubtful issues, spread hearsay – when you listen to something heretic or outrageously interesting, take a few days to decide whether it is reliable or not.
  • Never get indulged in interpersonal conflicts – do not get engaged into useless debates.
  • Maintain your integrity at all times – always stay formal and professional, and try to keep in mind the interests of your company.
  • Be optimistic and helpful – keep away from whining.
  • Be confident and self-assured but never be belligerent.
  • When articulating criticism, base it on an organizational standpoint not a personal one.
  • Don’t depend on secrecy – know that things will be revealed eventually and so choose what you should disclose accordingly.