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How To Deal With Office Politics with Grace and Professionalism

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Workplace politics exist because people want to get ahead in their careers.

It can create competition for things like promotions, recognition, and influence.

This leads to forming alliances, controlling information, and gaining favor with those in power.

Politics is inevitable in every workplace, found in varying degrees.

Though moderate levels are not harmful, staying outside bad politics is always best.

But sometimes, we may get entangled in it, so the only way out there is to deal with it tactically.

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Understanding Office Politics

Office politics arises from the inherent nature of human relationships and organizational power dynamics. 

As people work together, there is a natural tendency to form groups, seek recognition, and vie for influence.

These political behaviors can manifest in various ways.

Those include seeking favoritism, spreading rumors, giving flattery to the “right” people, and sabotaging the efforts of others. 

Understanding office politics is crucial for every employee.

Ignoring or denying its existence can lead to detrimental consequences.

By understanding the presence of office politics, people can proactively develop strategies to handle situations tactfully and professionally.

6 Ways to Handle Office Politics

Observe People

It’s a good idea to take a good look around when you start at a new company, even if you’re seasoned.

Each workplace has its unique dynamics.

If you want to learn more about the dynamics of the office, pay attention to the way people interact and the relationships they form.

Keep an eye out for cliques and in-groups.

Learning how to handle formal and informal networks is essential in the workplace.

Identifying informal networks is tricky.

These people have sway and can do things behind the scenes. 

These power players achieve outcomes that may not be evident through the formal channels.

Understanding these informal networks is key to grasping how things get done within an organization.

Build Positive Relationships

Having office friends will help you get invested in the workplace.

It’s about building genuine connections based on trust, respect, and collaboration.

Extend the bonding outside the office walls, plan outings, and grow your network. 

Start by getting close with your teammates and then extending to other departments.

Investing in relationship currency is overlooked, but it’s a powerful tool to achieve success, be it a promotion, bonus, or raise.

Most importantly, just like finding the right people, know your adversaries. 

There is a saying to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Know who can be your potential foe, and strategically maintain good working relationships with them.

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Stay Neutral

Sadly, workplace conflicts are inevitable, triggered by differing viewpoints, discrimination, competition, or simple misunderstandings.

They can get very nasty, with disciplinary action and even firings possible.

The best police in these situations is to stay neutral.

Being an impartial observer, rather than picking sides, maintains your credibility and professionalism. 

There doesn’t have to be a winner or loser in a conflict – often, both parties can benefit from a resolution.

Neutrality helps you gather information from various perspectives.

It enables you to understand the situation better and avoid getting dragged into unnecessary drama.

Being Influential

If you want to be influential in a professional landscape where lobbying for recognition and opportunities is common, then you need to learn how. 

Maintain an attitude of excelling and letting others advocate for your job.

Try to build a solid reputation and show your competence by consistently producing outstanding results. 

Use your new-found influence to champion ideas, gain support, and make your mark in decision-making.

Subtle self-promotion involves showcasing your accomplishments modestly and tactfully so it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Speak Up for Yourself

Being assertive ensures your voice is heard and your perspective is acknowledged.

It prevents your ideas from being overshadowed or overlooked. Be confident when articulating your thoughts. 

It shows your engagement and commitment, establishing you as an active participant in decision-making processes.

Contribute constructively and engage in open dialogue to bolster your credibility and influence among colleagues. 

Develop People Skills

Your interpersonal skills must be strong to steer clear of office politics, as it is all about people.

We all have an emotional reaction toward situations.

Learn what drives individuals, and how to handle it. 

Impulsive actions often lead to reckless moves, so think before you act.

This approach helps you understand others’ feelings and what they like or not. 

Don’t shy away from key players; build high-quality relationships with them.

People skills help manage conflicts diplomatically, address challenges gracefully, and find common ground.

Positive Workplace Politics

While many associate office politics with a negative light, it’s not inherently harmful.

It’s much about influence and persuasion, which only turns toxic when not done fairly.

Playing good politics involves navigating office dynamics positively and ethically. 

It means building strong relationships through collaboration and support, communicating, and showcasing your skills and achievements to earn what you deserve. 

5 examples of positive politics in the workplace

  • Building trust by openly sharing information with peers.
  • Guiding and supporting less experienced colleagues to help them grow.
  • Resolving conflicts through constructive discussions and mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Highlighting personal achievements to underscore their impact on team and company success.
  • Encouraging inclusivity by actively inviting diverse input from all team members, ensuring everyone feels valued and heard.

Final Thoughts

Understand office politics are a never-ending process you must handle throughout your corporate life.

Ignoring politics and focusing on your work on on hand is a good move, but on the other is very difficult as others may well bring you in against your will. 

Remember that only politically smart people win the race. So, reshape what politics means to you and look for ways to increase your influence by finding sponsors or supporters. 

Build strategic relationships while also being genuine to them. This way, you can navigate organizational politics while staying aligned with your career trajectory.

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