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Modern Rules for Navigating Office Politics

For many, dealing with office politics sounds about as appealing as having a root canal.

What usually comes to mind are unpleasant tactics, like backstabbing and deceit. However, office politics actually refers to relationships and decision-making structures that are an essential part of working life.

Each generation has had to deal with these issues, but there are some new complications. As Zoom meetings replace face-to-face communications, social cues can be more difficult to read. Also, given that the average worker now changes jobs 12 times during their lifetime, you may have more systems to master, as well as more opportunities to make a fresh start.

You can try to avoid office politics, but that often winds up holding you back, especially if you aspire to leadership roles. You’ll go further by learning to use them to your advantage for greater job satisfaction and a more successful career. In this article, you’ll discover some techniques you can use when navigating office politics.

#1 Protect Your Interests

Most career paths come with potential pitfalls, from differences of opinion to unethical behavior in the workplace. You’ll need to stand up for yourself without becoming defensive. Keep these strategies in mind.

  • Screen carefully. Some office cultures are healthier than others. When you’re changing jobs, pay attention to how your future colleagues interact. If possible, talk with current and former employees to see what you can expect. Check websites like Glassdoor, where employees post reviews.
  • Set boundaries. Let others know what kind of behaviors you find acceptable and unacceptable. Understand your limits and listen to your feelings. Avoid gossip and be selective about who you confide in.
  • Stay calm. Keeping your composure under pressure helps you to think logically and make sounder decisions. You’ll also demonstrate that you can deal with challenges effectively. Take a few deep breaths or go for a walk if you need to cool off.
  • Focus on facts. Even if others are jockeying for power, you can be honest with yourself and search for practical solutions.
  • Document events. Keeping records to support your position might help if you wind up in a serious dispute. You might also be able to prevent misunderstandings from escalating.
  • Seek work-life balance. Taking care of yourself will make you stronger and more resilient. It’s easier to face tension at work if you’re eating healthy, exercising regularly, and spending time with family and friends.

#2 Make a Positive Impact

Remember that office politics can still be a constructive force. Do your part to create a friendlier and more productive atmosphere for yourself and the rest of your team. These techniques can help you make a positive impact in your workplace.

  • Stay informed. Knowledge is power. Pay attention to the organizational chart and informal groups and cliques. Some employees usually have more influence than others.
  • Build connections. Develop your own network. Form alliances with coworkers you admire and look for ways to help each other.
  • Show empathy. Let your colleagues know you care about them. Listen closely and remember what they tell you about their families and hobbies. Be kind when they’re struggling with a heavy workload.
  • Be inclusive. Reach out to others and help them feel valued. Examine your personal biases. Mingle at company parties and outings.
  • Use appropriate humor. Lighten the mood with a funny story or keep some windup toys on your desk. Show that you can laugh at yourself.
  • Be accountable. Build a reputation for being responsible and trustworthy. Follow through on your commitments and accept the consequences of your actions.

In conclusion, you might be tempted to sit out office politics, but it’s smarter to become skillful at dealing with these situations effectively. Advocate for yourself and treat others with respect, so you can achieve your career goals without compromising your principles.

If you’re having difficulties navigating your office politics, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discover how leadership coaching can help. I have worked with leaders from many of the top Fortune 100 organizations.  So, I understand the challenges leaders and professionals face in high-pressure environments. Read testimonials from satisfied leaders.

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