Office politics exist in every industry and profession. It is human nature to compare, contrast and compete. Competitive co-workers, demanding bosses, jealousy over promotions, the list is endless. Office politics are not going anywhere, so you must learn how to navigate them effectively. Here are some ideas.
Tips for Navigating Office Relationships
Stay Neutral During Conflicts
An excellent way to handle office politics is to stay out of them. Let co-workers know you avoid arguments, political discussions, or controversial topics. Remaining neutral helps to set an example for your co-workers. Staying neutral enables you to feel good about your actions at work and maintain low-conflict professional relationships. When the talk turns to an inappropriate topic, Move to a light topic such as the weather, a new movie, or what you plan on eating for lunch.
Take the High Road
Do not stoop to their level if you discover co-workers making unflattering comments about you. Do not act negatively. It makes you look like the bad guy. What if a team member underperforms to make you look bad? Praise them for their work and not the job they failed to do. A positive approach helps you turn attention onto your underperforming colleague and lets co-workers decide where the problem lies.
Be Familiar With the Social Circles
To navigate office politics, you must know who the players are and what motivates them. Your workplace has an organizational structure, but there is an informal pecking order. Pay close attention, and you will see who is making the decisions. Look for cliques or tight social circles. These groups are where most gossip originates. Doing your work does not have to include political motivation. You can be friendly without getting involved in the drama.
Document Work and Time
Is someone taking credit for your work? Perhaps a co-worker is saying you are not pulling your weight. Do not let these office vultures bring you down. Document the ways you are contributing to your company. Record your breaks, your work, and any problems you run into. If you have a negative interaction with someone, write it down, including the time, date, and a brief event description. A time tracker can provide a digital record of your productivity. This information gives you ammunition when you find yourself in a political situation.
Know Who Your People Are
Dealing with difficult people and office politics is challenging. It is nice to know that you have someone on your side. You are not building an army; you are finding people you get along with that can support you in your career. These are the people you can vent to and release the stress of the office environment to. Seek a mentor who can guide you in managing expectations, finding the right allies, and avoiding office politics. Your people can make politics easier to handle.
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