Tips and tricks

Office politics is not always a bad thing, right?

Office politics. Come on, we’re all familiar with it. It’s there… like a ninja… stealthily hiding away, ready to strike, as soon as Susan is away for an extra 10 minutes during her lunch break. You can literally cut it with a knife during staff meetings (especially when Mike tries to be Head Boy again, brown nosing the manager every chance he gets) and you can even catch a whiff of it when someone does something that goes against the grain of the office. (Yes, I’m looking at you and your boiled eggs, Frank.) Office Politics. You can’t escape it.

And, I mean, you could be employed at the best company in the whole entire world and you’ll probably STILL be inflicted by some sort of office drama. Why? Well, because we human beings are a fickle folk. And when you chuck a hodge podge of personalities into one mixing bowl, chances are everyone won’t always get along. The political nature of the office means that there will always be some sort of conflict to manage and road blocks to work around.

But is office politics ALL bad? Well, I think it’s not.

I mean, sure, we’ve all had our fair share of backstabbing, manipulation, favoritism and (dare I say it… yes I do!) even sexism or racism, in an office environment. People can be pretty crude when there is an opportunity for advancement or a better income. But if you’re really out to WIN (and not in the financial way, Tina) you would use office tension to better your communication and conflict handling skills.

In fact, an article in Forbes magazine, basically pushes you to engage in office politics. The article says: “If you are not currently engaging in office politics, it’s time to get started and here’s why: Being politically savvy is a crucial ingredient in your career success. Forging good relationships up and down the org chart is a sure way to get yourself promoted, and a key to becoming a respected leader.”

It speaks about staying true to who YOU are, while maintaining transparency, as you deal with the various personalities in your office. You can totally use conflict to help build trust and create clearer lines of communication in that temperamental environment.

You can deal with office politics by:

1. Not being a jerk, man. I mean, it’s lekker to be recognized by your boss but it’s even better to make sure you display integrity and honor, even when Pete next door does not. This means being emotionally aware of the next person and staying cautious when handling situations that are sensitive. You don’t always have to have the upper hand to … you know… have the upper hand. (Hey, that’s good, I should tweet that!)

2. Getting off the grapevine! Yep, gossiping will probably not be a good idea if you’re looking to build healthy relationship AND create a self-image of maturity and stability. No one trusts the office gossip. Build your reputation as someone who can be trusted and someone who turns a negative into a positive. I want to be around that person, don’t you?

3. Doing your job. It’s as simple as that. You’re employed to do a job, so do it. Hey, do a little bit extra if you have the time. Who cares what Penny is up to. Penny is not your responsibility. You were not employed to keep tabs on her. Stop being an Aunty Mildred, step away from your dining room curtain, and focus on your own work!

4. Speaking up! Okay, honestly Bob, if you don’t like the fact that Sindi is subjecting the whole office to her extensive Cher collection, simply tell her… politely! But walking around like a grump, muttering all sorts of negative things to whoever has an ear, probably won’t get Sindi to turn her music down.

5. Guarding your heart and staying free of offense. I get it, doing the “right thing” sometimes feels like an injustice (because Linda needs to know what a terrible person she is!) but consciously deciding how you will respond to office politics, and how you will allow it to affect your heart, could go a long way towards choosing joy and peace, over turmoil. And anyways, taking the burden of office politics home with you is not part of your job description.

Have you ever had to deal with politics in the office? How do you handle it? Share your advice with us below. 

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