Office Politics or workplace politics are a part and parcel of everyday life in the corporate world. I have come across many people in my professional life who loathe office politics and a few who have found themselves in a position of changing jobs because they could not handle office politics. Well, like every coin has two sides, there is good politics and bad politics. A successful professional is one who practices good politics without sinking to the lowest behavioral standards in order to further his/her interests and stay alert to the bad politics which could make him/her suffer. I know this is easier said than done. Therefore, today, I am going to share with you five tips to help you handle office politics efficiently.
Why do office politics exist?
Before we get there, it is important to understand that, offices are usually political in nature. Everyone working in your office wants to succeed. However, success can mean different things to different people. Also, people can have different approaches to achieving it. When these differences become too much to manage, people start getting political. Also, since organizations have limited resources, teams or individuals tend to compete with other to satisfy their goals even if it means going against the proverbial ‘greater good’.
5 Tips to handle Office Politics
Remember, in order to handle office politics, you must first accept it as a part of your professional life which will always be around. Even if people leave and new employees take their place, it may change, but never disappear. Here are some tips:
Understand your organization’s social and political landscape
I understand that you are there for a job and that you must focus on doing it well. However, closing your eyes to something does not make it go away. Keep an eye and ear open to help you understand the political and social culture of your organization. For example, has some employee been sidelined? What are the probable reasons? Who has sidelined him/her? Who are the bullies? Also, by observing relationships and communications around you, you might discover some insights about the culture of your organization that can be beneficial to your career.
Start building a network
Even in the most political environment, you need to have a social network of your own. Look around and start connecting with people from different teams and varying hierarchies. Build a healthy rapport with the powerful people in your organization as well. However, while doing so, avoid aligning yourself too closely with a particular group. Remember, these are your colleagues and some of them will be vying for the same promotion as you. Close friendships can often lead to secrets being shared which can be detrimental to you if someone decides to use your secrets against you.
Work on your Interpersonal skills
Politics is all about people. Therefore, strong interpersonal skills will help you build and maintain a healthy network at your office. Work on your emotional intelligence too – stay in control of your emotions and think before you act. Also, be a good listener as long as the conversation is not related to any gossip or a boss-bashing session.
Keep your friends close and enemies closer
Well, enemies would be an over-statement but what I mean is that distancing yourself from people who practice bad politics isn’t really a solution. For that matter, I have found that if you get to know the gossipers and/or manipulators in your office a little better, you can successfully avoid or even counter their moves when they try something with you.
Stay Assertive and avoid Aggression
While an office is a more matured place as compared to a college, it is funny how some things remind one of the college days. Taking sides, spreading rumors, confiding in someone and finding out that the information has leaked, calling names, etc. I have seen 35-40-year-olds spread false rumors for a small gain at work. If you find yourself in a conflict, try to remain focused on the solution of the problem than pointing fingers. Also, if someone tried pointing a finger at you, assertively steer the conversation towards solving the problem.
Remember, you must learn the skills required to handle office politics efficiently as avoiding it will do you more harm than good. Learn the ropes and you will find yourself unperturbed by all the gossip and speeding ahead in your career.
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