Office politics may quite likely be one of the most pervasive and difficult to handle issues that employees face every day. From micro aggressions to backstabbing and gossip, nothing kills employee morale faster than politicking in the office.
Like it or not however, office politics are and will be a part of employment. In any workplace, you’ll typically come across two polarizing trains of thought.
The first being that office politics is unavoidable and one should dive in with two feet. On the other hand, some believe that politics can be ignored entirely and has no place in the office.
Unfortunately, both of these approaches while applicable are not exactly the best way to go about managing the issue of office politics.
For one, avid office politicians often end up getting too caught up in the “game” which negatively affects their reputation and performance. Meanwhile failing to address the problem of office politics leaves one at the mercy of unscrupulous colleagues who have no qualms stepping on others.
Thus, in order to succeed, one has to adopt a neutral approach when it comes to dealing with office politics i.e. neither playing the “game” nor ignoring unspoken office rules and putting one’s head in the sand.
With over twenty years working in the energy and logistics industry, this writer has plenty of experience dealing with toxic work environments, and this is what he’d like to share with you.
1. Avoid gossip like the plague
Office gossip is tantalizing, juicy and most definitely fun to talk about but it’s also extremely toxic and can seriously jeopardize your career and reputation. Realistically, it’s nearly impossible to avoid office gossip, however it’s quite possible to protect yourself from it.
For example, if your colleague shares a piece of gossip with you, don’t add anything to it and calmly steer the topic to other work-related matters. Also, never repeat anything that you’ve heard to another person; the last thing you’d want is to be labelled as the office gossip.
By adopting this neutral approach towards gossip, your colleagues will realize that you’re not the type to partake in such behavior and over time, some may even respect you for having such integrity.
2. Never vent your frustrations to anyone at work
The office can be a frustrating place to be at times. There’s the incompetent manager from accounting who can’t tell left from right, the power-hungry executive who’s trying to supplant everyone and Susan from marketing who’s trying to impress the new MD.
In such situations, you may be tempted to vent your anger or frustration to a friend such as your lunch buddy Tom who’s always willing to listen. While it may feel good, venting to a trusted colleague may have some unintended consequences.
For one, you’ll never know who may have heard you venting to a friend and from there, such things have a way of getting around. Also, a trusted colleague may sometimes have ulterior motives and you could just as easily find yourself getting stabbed in the back by a confidant.
While it may seem paranoid, sometimes problems at work should be spoken to with friends or family outside the workplace. With them, you’ll be able to vent your heart out without worrying how it may get around.
3. Maintain a high standard of work
Despite our best efforts, there’ll always be someone who will not like you and there’ll always be a person looking to step on you in order to get ahead. Instead of playing the game, focus on keeping your work impeccable and your nose clean.
This ensures that anyone out to get you will have little-to-no ammunition that can be used against you. Furthermore, this also has the advantage of impressing your bosses who will appreciate your attention for detail.
Meanwhile, keep up a professional facade and always be respectful and friendly. This approach will most definitely earn you more friends than it will enemies and as you know, it’s always better to have a friend by your side then an enemy at your back.
Dealing with office politicians is without a doubt frustrating and tiring at the same time, just like trying to guess the winning horse at the Kentucky Derby. However, falling into their trap will only create more problems than it solves which is why you should remain neutral at all times.