You don’t have to work in an office to be familiar with office politics – it is omnipresent. Anyone who has ever had a job knows the role dynamics among those who are part of the work environment plays in how a business is run.
Besides causing problems for the individuals who work together, the end result can be all the more demoralizing. Employees and managers who must concentrate on the political aspects of work may have less time to pay attention to their actual jobs. This could eventually lead to financial loss which may in turn translate into job loss for employees.
Office politics is something most people recognize when they see it in action, but find difficult to define. Office politics can be best defined as “…the use and misuse of power in the workplace” (Alesko, Michael. “Office Politics: Do You Play or Pass,” Today’s Careers). This definition implies that office politics is not truly a bad thing. I agree that it isn’t always bad and it certainly isn’t avoidable. Therefore we must learn to cope with it.
Here are 10 points on how to avoid and deal with office politics.
1. Keep your eyes and ears open
In order to properly deal with office politics, you need to be vigilant and knowledgeable about everything that is going on around you. You need to know the people who are involved in politics and the type of politics going on. Always know the people who are close to your boss or who can hurt you or reputation. The best way to stay away from your rivals is to predict their actions and stay one step ahead of them. Try to know every secret talks going on, without letting anyone notice you or being too nosey. You also need to be sure what plans are being formulated in your office and if there any chance that it may harm you. Make sure that people don’t think you to be a peep you nose too often.
2. Be neutral
Unless you are in a game of Survivor, there’s no need to take sides in office politics. There is always a time in your career when you have to take one side and oppose other, but not this time. Try to stay out of this situation. This may lead mutual impediments. Do not support anyone and do not contest anyone’s actions. The secret to a happy office life is to keep a good working relationship with everyone. Make sure that everyone is happy with your behavior and you don’t hurt anyone. If you want anyone to be good to you, you need to do the same with them. Taking sides doesn’t do any good, but create grudges among colleagues.
3. Keep a working relationship with your boss
The one who has the control over boss is always safe in office politics. If you are good to your boss and he/she is good to you, then there is no reason afraid of any kind of office politics going on. Know your boss and talk to them from time to time. Do your work efficiently and on time,so that he know your dedication. Get to know about his anniversaries and birthdays and always send well wishes whenever the time comes. You can also bring little flowers and chocolates. But constant gifting may look suspicious and not good on you. People may consider it as bribe.
4. Never gossip.
Nothing destroys the dynamics of an office more than gossip. Stay away from it, because nothing good will come of it. Just be sure to avoid the not so good attitude of lecturing your co-workers on the evils of gossip. You’ll make them lose face, and they’ll resent you even more. Instead, try to tactfully changing the subject. For example, suppose the group is talking about Jane’s problems with her child, and of course Jane is absent from the group. Do some free association and try to come up with some topic that’s related to Jane or her child, but won’t involve gossip. Then, make a comment about that topic.
For instance, suppose you know that a co-worker’s son is involved in a sports league. You mention this fact, thereby linking the child and the league. Then, shift the conversation so that you’re now talking about the league rather than your co-worker’s son. You could ask when schedules will be published, or if they need parent volunteers. If you do it right, no one will even notice that you’ve moved them away from the gossip.
5. Become a straight arrow.
The only real way to keep out of trouble politically is to be seen as someone who does not play games and that includes office politics. Do what you say you’re going to do, alert people to issues, and admit your wrongs – everyone makes mistakes. Others will respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you. More important, you have a lower chance of being a victim of politics.
6. Be genuine.
While practicing any of the above, the one thing that you have to ensure is that you should come across as a genuine person. In fact you should not just come out as that but also be a genuine person. Now I know it’s not easy to be genuine while listening to someone’s tails of treachery/cunning ways or someone’s cribbing session! (I mean you will be genuine but in another direction!) So in that case, as have mentioned earlier also, don’t speak your mind … be silent … which is still genuine … for you neither agree nor disagree. Also be humane and more accepting of other people … try and not to judge people and the result would be a more genuine/ empathetic you. It is a quality that will help always and it is only this that will bring you closer to people in any set up. So be naturally concerned and helpful without going over board.
7.Don’t be a perfectionist.
Do not act as a person who wants to become a perfectionist in every thing happening in the workplace. You should focus on the tasks that have been assigned to you and avoid interfering in the tasks of others unless you are asked to do so. Unwanted interference in the tasks of other employees can put you on the office politics hit list – a place you do not want to be.
8. Have a professional attitude.
Maintain a professional attitude when you are at work. Don’t make issues personal. If you have problems with a task then keep them to that task by not making them personal. Set a good example in your workplace. If you are managing a team and do not want your team members to participate in office politics then you have to stay completely away from it.
9.Listen to people.
Listen to everyone and their opinions. Do not engage them in conversation, but allow them to speak with you. If people want to talk to you, you should listen with an open mind, but do not offer your opinions unless they ask. Be seen as the neutral party who will listen to everyone.
10. Make your agenda visible.
Make your agenda known to your coworkers. You are a team player. You do not want to play political games, because that dilutes the message that your company wishes to send to its customers. You should reveal that you are strictly working for the paycheck, nothing more.