How to Deal with Office Politics

15 July 2016 Peak Recruitment

Two women arm wrestling

The office environment is a place where tasks are completed constructively and effectively, there is a core sense of team work between all colleagues, work time is a place of hard graft and fun and laughter and there are good respectful communications between all the hierarchical roles.

Have You Visited This Idyllic Place? Sound A Little Like an Ideal?

That’s probably because people interactions often destroy this wonderful scenario and replace it with emotions that are more akin to stress, anger, humiliation and angst a large part of the time. People are all pretty complex and unpredictable, obsessed with their own needs and goals and open to moods and idiosyncrasies -put them altogether in a little box called an office and you may well expect fireworks.

Welcome to The Urban Jungle

Office life can be an environment which is a joy to work in, but it can throw up a lot of curved balls which cause daily stress, and other extreme negative emotions simply because of the complex interactions, mis-communications and focus on the invisible career ladder in the centre of the room. If you do not learn to handle office politics, you can end up anxious, depressed, unable to commit to your role and prevented from satiating your career prospects.

Sometimes it can be just a word that is said out of place by a colleague that sticks with you all day – it makes you feel bad and you can’t get it out of your head. Your work suffers and you end up depressed.

So with that in mind here are 7 tips to help those daily conflicts, and get you back on track.

Delay That Reaction

The office environment has often been termed the “urban jungle” because at times it does feel like dog eat dog. Survival of the fittest. And in those situations, basic human psychology is at work such as fight or flight. Either option may well get you into deep water and not offer you the informed choices you really have at your disposal. You therefore need to recognise when your more extreme emotions are being brought into play and delay action. Cool down even if it is for a couple of seconds. Give yourself time to think about the whole situation in terms of, where you want to be long-term. You may win this battle through a heated response but you may also have lost the war.

Hold Off with The Buddy-Buddy Stuff

An office is a place where you are going to be surrounded by individuals from all walks of life, genders and ethnicities. There may be a feeling that you need to be friendly with everyone in order to part of the “group”. Again be choosy. Understand where people are coming from. Chatting with dozens of people who are taking a break from their tasks can put your schedules at risk. Don’t forget, they have probably already sorted their schedules and are just infringing yours. Ultimate career goals often get in the way of friendships and cause grief, so keep a small group of tight friends around you who you can trust. The type of people who understand you and won’t be offended when you say you need to get on.

Business Is the Goal in Your Actions

To be fair an office is just a set of people. Any conflicts which occur can impinge on each individual’s preferences, ego and goals. In the long run this can then develop further into anger, broken relationships and personal vendetta’s. The way to deal with this kind of office politics is to consider the overall company goal and make this stance overt in the points you make. This in turn detracts from petty differences and gets you seen as someone who is bang on target with company principles

Why Do We Bitch – Turn It to Positive Action

When management cascades unpopular changes down to office workers the result is often gossiping, a stand against management and loads of wasted time bitching in cliques. And usually all this activity comes to nothing. Apart from it looking bad, causing factions and wasting precious time you are left with the same problem in a worse setting at the end of the day.

Instead of bitching look at the changes holistically and put all that energy to making the space for you and your colleagues into a positive environment. A positive attitude will be picked up and respected and is much easier to live with in an office environment.

Try to Keep Emotions Out

Our emotions are a natural symbol telling us how we feel about any one situation. But if we rely on them too much they can detract from the matter in hand and cause miscommunications, and fractured relationships. Learn to recognise your feelings. What does anger feel like? What does fear feel like? Once they have been triggered, accept they are there and, as stated above, delay your reaction while you put your head back in gear. Finish the interaction separated as much as you can from raw feelings, but come back after the conflict and pay attention to them (preferably with a trusted friend) in order for you to deal with them on another level.

Be A Good Listener

Some big shots in the office believe that they are really showing how great they are by sounding off for 95% of the day. This can be waring at the best of times. They are not creating useful business relationships they are just promoting themselves. In order to understand where your colleagues are coming from, their needs, goals and beliefs you need to listen. This isn’t easy. It is much easier sometimes to talk about yourself. But relationships will be enriched, the work environment will be enhanced and you will have a better vision of people’s skills and experiences.

Think Win-Win

If someone wins in an argument, then the traditional scenario is someone loses. This automatically brings about a shift in the power base in any relationship and could be destructive to future interactions. In all situations try to think “How can we both win out in this conflict?”. This may not always be possible but if you have openly shown that you are willing to consider a compromise for the sake of a win-win this is bound to temper relationships in the future.

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