How to Stamp Out Office Politics

Office politics has a bad rep. It conjures up thoughts of unimpressive workers kissing up to their bosses, and managers promoting their undeserving sycophants.

Winning at office politics doesn’t mean scheming and undercutting co-workers. It means being a more thoughtful and courteous colleague, so that everyone can succeed, and the drama doesn’t overtake the company.

Here are some dos and don’ts to cut the drama of office politics:

Do not…

· Do not try to change company culture. Don’t come in wearing a tie when everyone else is wearing jeans (or vice-versa). Don’t let your hours deviate too far from the norm. Communicate the way others in the office communicate. It’s okay to be different, but don’t overdo it. Chances are, the company executives promote the culture they do for a reason.

· Do not take sides. This is easier said than done, but the last place you want to be is between two senior managers who are at odds with each other. Focus on the business objectives, even if you think one is right and the other is wrong. By not taking sides, you’re more likely to build trust with both managers and gain their respect.

escalation office politics

Do not let things escalate. Flickr/seventwentysk

· Do not lose your cool. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll get angry at work. You may feel the urge to scream at someone. Don’t do it. Your co-workers and supervisors will forget a lot of the good things you’ve done and remember only the screaming. You will have won the battle but lost the war.

· Do not complain constantly. It may feel good in the short term, but it does you no good in the workplace—especially if you get a reputation for it. Don’t feel victimized by your situation. Try to fix what you can, and accept what you cannot. If you gain a reputation as a positive person who tries to solve problems, good thing will come your way.


· Be approachable. At your desk. In the lunchroom. In the bathroom. In the parking lot. You’ll get a reputation as a go-to guy who listens. A low-level supervisor remembers a colleague approached him at his desk the day after an office party and said, “My wife loved talking to you. She thought you were so interesting.” The supervisor remembered talking with her, and he remembered that he had barely said a word. He just listened to her.

· Build relationships before you need them. Crushing office politics means networking before you need to network. People who know each other can handle disagreements better than people who do not.  

· Practice self-awareness. Are you the source of tension? Many people can recognize shortcomings in others, but fail to recognize their own faults. Be a positive influence for everyone else.

· Think win-win. We grow up thinking that if someone has to win, then someone else has to lose. It doesn’t have to be that way in the workplace. Be the one in your office or department who is always saying, “How can we all win here?” Promote mutually acceptable solutions. Win-win situations help to engage employees, promote unity, and drown out politics.

You might not want to do any of these things. In some jobs, and at some companies, office politics almost never come into play. But if they do, you can help to shape them into a positive thing. Don’t let your workplace be toxic.


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