Office politics is here to stay. In any organization, no matter how big or small, relationships between and among people working together are besieged by conflicts, agreements, and other situations that can either make or break operations.
Office politics refers to the ways and means individuals employ to gain advantage for certain reasons. Mostly, the purpose is to achieve a personal or business goal, while for some, it’s just to have the upper-hand on matters and decisions. Marilyn Puder-York, the author of The Office Survival Guide: Surefire Techniques for Dealing with Challenging People and Situations, defines office politics as follows:
“Simply put, office politics is the game of the workplace — the people, the culture and the rules that must be learned. That rear-kissing co-worker, the strict dress code, the secretary who supposedly just answers phones but really runs the office.”
But “politicking” isn’t bad all the time. It has a positive side. If properly used, could bring about success in your endeavors. Plainly put, you need to know how to work your way through the office politics minefield to emerge a winner. That is, of course, without putting anyone else and anything at a disadvantage. How do you do this? Read on!
Identify the formal and informal network
You have to familiarize yourself with the organizational hierarchy. For a fact, you are bound by a structure of formal reporting relationships. It is, therefore, a fundamental requirement that you have a deep appreciation of authorities and turf issues and how these relate to your position.
Then there’s the informal set-up where you could spot who among the people have greater influence over the others. Who are the trusted ones and who are just non-existent? By knowing who these personalities, you’ll be guided on how to approach people. After all, you should use different strokes for different folks.
Be a keen observer and a great listener
Always “take out your antennae” and learn to carefully but quietly observe your peers and bosses. Also, watch anyone who works with you. Practice listening rather than doing all the talking in discussions. It’s human nature for a person to like being heard. You would be surprised how you can earn one’s trust easily if you demonstrate the art of active listening.
Seek to understand
You may feel or think that you possess the best idea over anyone else. Moreover, you may feel that this other guy’s style from another department sucks. Stop this urge to insist upon your thoughts quickly.
Be the better person. Take the initiative to understand first. This approach is rather disarming and always effective. You know why? Much like listening, the other party is not put on the defensive and is, therefore, put at ease.
Don’t be passive
Steering clear of intrigues and other destructive scenarios is NOT the answer. You need to put forward what’s on your mind. However, you should do this only after carefully getting all the necessary information and assessing situations. Sure, don’t get involved in gossips. Nevertheless, when you find yourself in a circumstance that calls for you doing or saying something, then go ahead and act or speak up. Don’t be aggressive. Just be “assertive”.
Don’t be partial
Keep your personal biases to yourself. Whatever you do, refrain from being affiliated with cliques or groups no matter how popular or notorious they are. Maintain a neutral ground so that people may know that you’re a professional, objective, and have a mind of your own.
Seize opportunities to show what you can do to shine
Your bosses and peers should see you as someone who’s confident and secure and is not at all afraid to show it. Get noticed by having a “self-starter attitude.” Embark on projects that you think you can do and in which you can make a difference.
You should keep dangerous politicking at bay and hold on to honest-to-goodness practices that will bring only win-win outcomes. Build better relationships and your own sphere of influence. Make office politics work for you.