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How to deal with Office Politics

If you are a professional, you’ll find examples of office politics all around you. You can try to ignore it, but it’s always been there and it’s always going to be there. It’s the big open secret that HR teams can’t do much about despite their policies and intentions.

Well, they could tackle the problem at its root and remove all human employees. But that’s wishful thinking.

What causes all the negativity in an environment that’s supposed to be collaborative? Is there a way to avoid it? We explore these questions in today’s post.

If you can’t avoid office politics, learn to deal with it

by Swati

Office politics is an integral part of almost every office setup, big or small; you need to recognise it and tactfully deal with it to keep yourself afloat. Let’s start off by identifying the top five elements that lead to office politics.

5 Reasons responsible for Office Politics


1. Struggle for power and respect

Each organisation has a hierarchy of its own; the quest for power, rising higher and being in a decision-making position is what every ambitious professional yearns for. The corporate hierarchy structure can be compared to a pyramid where the number of positions becomes lesser as you move upwards.

The journey to reach a higher designation can lead to tough competition. The conflicting goals can lead to struggle to attain influential positions and gain respect.

2. Attention- seeking tendency

If you’re a senior consultant and there are at least four colleagues in your office who are at par in terms of capabilities and qualification, what sets you apart from the rest?

In a corporate environment, at times, it becomes necessary to blow your own trumpet so that you get due recognition and credit for your effort. In moderation, it works in your favour, however there may be the aggressive ones who crave for attention and instead of focussing on work, may resort to various unethical means to carve out a niche for themselves and get noticed by their bosses and the senior management.

Their objective may range from better chances for a possible overseas assignment or a promotion opportunity which only a select few would be able to bag. They may do this by creating a bad reputation of others around or taking credit for ideas conceived by others or the work done by other team members.

Such backstabbing may initially look like a successful attempt, but this attitude would never help you gain the respect and support of your team members.

3. Conflicting nature among team members

You’re at loggerheads with your colleague. You cannot agree with him on any matter. You also dislike his constant interference into your work, his arrogant nature; you constantly feel provoked and feel it’s time to give him a piece of your mind.

But are you sure things will resolve by doing so? Instead they may get worse. If you keep losing your cool every now and then, people around may form a negative perception of you. If you’ve to work with the same person in the future, he may make things very difficult for you.

Instead think of ways to find solutions to problems amicably. Discuss this matter with the person concerned when you’re in a cool frame of mind and let him know that his behaviour is disturbing you.

In spite of this if things don’t resolve, seek the intervention of your boss into this matter.

4. Resource-sharing

It may be your first day at work. You wouldn’t be aware that before you entered the scene, your colleague had applied for a new laptop quite some time back and not yet secured one; however here you are with a brand new laptop.

You’re lucky to be assigned a nice cozy cabin so others who were eyeing this space would not be too delighted about your arrival.

This is what resource-sharing is all about. Demand exceeds availability as far as resources are concerned, there will inevitably be a tussle to lay your hands on the best that the office has to offer.

Whether it’s a workspace that gives you an outdoor view, a personal printer for you to use, an additional storage desk or being assigned a secretary or an additional team member in your workgroup to help you out; any additional resource would always be welcome.

5. Relationship and confidentiality issues

You may get friendly with colleagues, you think you share a great bonding as you enjoy criticising your bosses, enjoy the same jokes, you get the feeling that this person can be my BFF.

However, you need to rethink on this as this person who’s your colleague may have a lot of other things in common which may negatively impact you: career aspirations, promotion opportunities and the need to impress your boss.

In future, if your relationship happens to sour, if you’ve revealed too many secrets to this good friend of yours, there’s a chance that person goes around spilling the beans making work life tough for you.

Always be selective about what information you disclose your colleagues. Always confirm the authenticity of any piece of news before you pass it on, or you’ll earn the title of ‘rumour monger’. Also do not rule out the chances of such information reaching your boss through unknown sources.

If your boss lost his cool and you were left wondering what caused this outburst, you’ve guessed it right. Such incidents can trigger negativity among colleagues causing trust-related issues.

So what can you do about all the politics going on around you?

How to Handle Office Politics

You cannot work in isolation and decide to cut-off from the politics altogether. You need to develop healthy relationships. You need to believe in yourself and your work and rely on your knowledge and skills rather than flattery to rise higher.

You need to prove yourself by being competent and make yourself indispensible. This may also mean going beyond your scope of work or possessing additional skills which can be a great value addition.

If you’re in the finance area but you can make excellent presentations and also possess some basic software knowledge, this can come handy for others in your department. This way you can win their confidence and build a strong relation with your peers as well as your superiors.

Have a chat over lunch. Don’t miss a chance to socialise or network, whether it’s any event you can attend or an offsite-outing; always make good use of any such opportunity.

Instead of playing dirty politics, invest in building personal connections and strong alliances. Create an atmosphere of positivity around you. Ask for feedback so that you have scope for improvement.

Try to learn more about areas where you lack knowledge. All this will project your willingness to work as a team and in the interest of your organisation.

Have you ever had a tough time dealing with office politics? Do let us know how you managed to survive such a situation and have secrets recipes to win over office politics?

Read these related articles:
12 Psychological manipulation techniques your coworkers are using to victimise you
6 Tips to Tackle Office Bullying
How stress kills by affecting the brain, body, heart and mind
Author Bio: Swati has worked in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world for over a decade. She now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including career guidance and self-improvement.

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