Surviving Office Politics

If your organization is rife with politics, improve your chances of survival by following these simple rules.

  • Observe the organization’s political style without getting involved in political struggles until you’re sure you know what’s going on. If you notice inconsistencies in the way the organization operates, continue to watch until you can more completely understand what the patterns and motivations are.
  • Build a network of trusted allies–not for political battle but moral support. During your observation phase you can identify who these people might be. Build a network outside the organization to create options and opportunities for yourself. There’s always perspective–and options for potential new employment–beyond your current organization. Use your network to broaden your focus beyond your own company and reconfirm or realign your values.
  • Be discreet during the observation period and stay true to your own values. Don’t betray your own sense of what’s right merely to fit into the organization–it will eventually lead to internal conflict and stress. You can’t please everyone all the time; use your own integrity to make decisions that you are comfortable with.
  • Expose, gently with finesse, other people’s politically motivated behavior. When coworkers say one thing and do another, or seem to be trying to sabotage your decisions or work relationships, challenge their motivation using your assertiveness skills: “You seem to be unhappy with the decisions I’ve made, would you like to discuss them?” They may deny your suggestion or be confrontational, but at least the issue will be out in the open.
  • Find yourself a mentor with whom you can discuss your observations and concerns. You may gain a deeper understanding of the political processes at work and some insight into how you can manage these more effectively.

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