How to play office politics
without losing your job or sleep?
Stay focused on your professional goals
Jonathan, a 20-something manager at a consumer products goods company, asks, "I thought I will go ahead with hard work and high values, but I find my workplace to be worse than Washington DC. Should I play office politics even though I hate it? How can I protect myself from getting
In many surveys, Americans have expressed that to deal with office politics is the most difficult part of their jobs. If does not matter what type of job it is, it seems that the politics is always there. You simply cannot avoid office politics, but you can learn to deal with it in a way that it does not hurt your career.
Stay focused: Always remember what your largest goals in life are and what are your priorities. Do not get involved in the problems, gossip or dirty games that will divert you from your goals and waste your time. As aggravating as some situations can be, if you always stop to evaluate how important each issue is and how important it will be ten year from now, you will be able to take better decisions.
Concentrate on doing an excellent work and developing strong working partnerships with your colleagues:
This is not “Survivor” or "Apprentice." There are no million dollars at the end of the path that will justify any behavior. No job is safe anyway, so playing politics may not make it safer, but will definitely get you on the radar screen of "politicians" at work.
Do not be a control freak: Control freaks tend to be perfectionists who think they have to keep on eye on every thing or that they are capable of doing everything. Other types of control maniacs are those who are afraid that if they do not show their importance they will be thrown out. Great leaders are good at delegating. Great leaders empower people around them and motivate them to do their best. If you surround yourself with good people, and trust and guide them, then you will have less stress, more friends, higher productivity and time to focus on important, but less urgent issues. And you can create a work environment where there is less politics.
Know yourself: Know your weaknesses and your strengths. This way you can deal with your weaknesses in a better way. Everybody has weaknesses, you can overcome them working as a team or by taking appropriate training. If you really want to become a better person, consider working with a life coach.
Avoid gossip: Few activities are as destructive as gossip. Usually it does not bring anything positive; it only gives some momentary “pleasure.” How do you feel when you know that people are talking about you behind your back? Nobody likes being criticized and the people who do nothing but criticize. This includes even casual comments about the mean, stinky boss, the low wages, the unfair schedules, etc. Stay informed, but avoid gossiping and begetting. Again keep your focus.
Stay calm: Many people enjoy being part of the action. The workplace is not the place to exhibit this behavior; leave it for other places. At work, the calmer you are the more productive and professional you will be considered.
Before you declare a crisis think it twice: In other words, do not overreact. Ask yourself, "Is this really a crisis? Can I solve it by myself? Does it really need the input of other people?"
Be careful accusing people: It is difficult to be fair all the time. It is even more difficult to work with people that are not fair and tend to make accusations without thinking twice. Keep away from this behavior. Over time you will be perceived as someone who is always fair and has
unassailable character. Once you earn that reputation, even "politicians" will be afraid of attacking you because others around him/her will simply not agree.
You cannot avoid being in the middle of office politics, but you can avoid falling in the trap. If you keep above the politics, you have a better chance to see more clearly how things really are. Avoiding dirty politics does not mean to close your eyes or to let others step on you. Always keep an eye on what is happening around you, be friendly with everybody all or most of the time. Go to meetings well-prepared and be ready to present your points in a non-confrontational manner. You will not always keep everyone happy but certainly you will have less stress and more time for pursuing your professional goals.
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