Whether positive or negative, office politics will always exist. They’re just a way of life. But there’s a way to survive them, especially bad office politics, without compromising your integrity, ideals, and values. It will just be more challenging, and will require a lot of practice and manoeuvring.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with office politics:
Know the Power Structure in Your Organisation
This information will not be readily available for you in the employee handbook. You will have to learn this on your own by observing the overall office dynamics. But, in general, there are usually three types of people in an organization who hold the power: those who have the formal job position, those who perform and achieve targets consistently, and those who are popular, loved, and respected by all. Knowing which people fall into these categories will help you navigate the minefield of office politics and hopefully come out unscathed in the end.
Avoid Taking Sides
This is easier said than done. There will be strong personalities and valid arguments that you will have to deal with, and siding with one will be the easier thing to do. However, this can prove to be detrimental when the power shifts to the other side. You will be caught right in the middle, with an alliance that will be working against you. If you can help it, don’t let yourself be associated with a group. What you can do instead is to work independently and showcase your abilities. Build good rapport with everybody, but don’t play favorites. Keep things professional and don’t put yourself in situations where you have to pick a side.
Watch Your Back
There will be colleagues who will be genuinely happy with your accomplishments, and there will also be those who will look at you as competition that must be handled. They will be more than happy to get you out of the way, so be careful about these kinds of people. Sadly, every organization has them. Most of them pretend to be your friend and offer help or assistance. But once your back is turned, they start singing a whole different tune. Keep a strictly professional relationship and avoid oversharing, in case they think about using your ideas and suggestions for their own gain. In short, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Choose the Right Confidante
Know when to speak up, what to say, and whom to say it to. If you confide in someone who also puts his personal motives first, it can be disastrous for you. Choose to talk to someone who is in the position to speak with everyone and who’s also respected by everyone. Avoid saying anything that will make you look unprofessional or anything that will make you sound like you’re on a personal vendetta.
Master the Art of Patience and Tactfulness
At the end of the day, it’s your reaction that will matter. How you respond to certain behaviors and actions will reflect on you as a person. Be the bigger and better person by being professional, patient, and tactful. Hopefully, everyone else will follow suit.
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