Even if you have the same official goals as your coworkers, your priorities and motivations may be very different. The result? Office politics — dirty words for many professionals, but ones you have to cope with all the same.
Human interactions are tricky enough to navigate during the course of your regular life. These things are often even more complicated in the workplace. It’s not easy to balance diverse points of view, and a range of personalities, in order to work toward a common goal. However, that is exactly what working life demands.
Navigating office politics isn’t easy. But, you can get through it by contributing positively to the dynamic while avoiding the negative drama. This delicate balance requires that you invest a bit of time and effort in the process, and that you pay close attention to a few important aspects of your office interactions.
Navigating office politics isn’t easy. But, you can get through it by contributing positively to the dynamic while avoiding the negative drama.
Listening effectively is one of the keys to successfully navigating just about every human interaction. You’re likely aware of this. But, how often do you really make listening a priority in your day or even in an individual conversation? Be sure to take the time to understand what’s going on around your office and get to know your coworkers.
Good listeners demonstrate a desire to build understanding, first and foremost. The people you work with will notice that they feel heard when they’re with you. That should do wonders for your relationships at work and for your general reputation around the office. And, you’ll really get to know the people you work with, which will help you better deal with challenges as they arise.
2. let people know you appreciate and like them
The idea that emotions play such a big role in the workplace might seem really juvenile. Why do adults need to be told that they’re liked and appreciated?
Here’s the thing: it’s not immature. It’s totally normal. Sure, some people need their egos stroked a little more than others, but everyone cares what others think of them to some extent. You have to effectively traverse the emotional landscape of your office in order to successfully navigate office-life.
One of the keys to wading over the hills and valleys of office politics is staying on everyone’s good side as much as possible. If your coworkers, manager, etc., feel like you really understand and appreciate them, they’re far less likely to take a position that works against you.
3. Think before you act
You want to stay as far away from the drama as possible when it arises at work. All of the gossip, schmoozing, bragging and infighting can have a way of pulling you in, but resist the urge to get involved on impulse.
Instead, take the time to observe the situation and plan your response before acting. Determine the appropriate behavior first and then put it into play. This should help you to construct a mature and careful response to whatever is going on at the moment. Over time, others will likely notice and value the emotional intelligence you’re reliably bringing to the table.
4. Don’t be afraid to be boring
You may have been conditioned to believe that it’s super important to stand out from the crowd at work. That’s true in many ways, but not when it comes to office politics. It’s perfectly OK to step away from negative interactions and behaviors and not get personally involved.
You may occasionally feel some internal pressure when interacting with people about the political dynamics of your office. It might seem like it’s important to get excited about the things your coworkers are talking about, maybe crack a joke or tell a great story once in a while.
These behaviors can backfire, especially when the political air is thick. So, don’t be afraid to be a little boring when it comes to these politically charged workplace interactions. Over time, people will learn you don’t get involved, and leave you out of it.
5. Don’t get pushed around
Office politics are a part of working life. They simply can’t be avoided entirely. Instead, you want to avoid the negative interactions and focus on contributing to the dynamics in a positive way.
This doesn’t mean getting pushed around. For example, you shouldn’t ever let anyone else take credit for your work. Be sure to let the powers that be know when you’re responsible for an accomplishment. Don’t ever let office politics stop you from looking out for yourself.
Focus on being a positive contributor to the dynamics that exist in your workplace, and do all you can to avoid getting caught up in the drama. Sometimes this means staying away from people and situations, but it doesn’t mean ignoring your own needs or interests. At the end of the day, if you’re consistently determined and conscientious about doing the right thing at work, for yourself and for others, you’ll do just fine.
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