Updated April 19, 2023
Guide to Workplace Politics
Office or workplace politics!!! Sounds familiar, right? You must have faced it in some part of your professional life, or maybe you are facing it even now. An extremely disturbing phenomenon in the workplace is when you know your co-workers are talking against you or behind your back. Workplace politics is a part of your professional life. Everyone involved in corporate life might have faced issues where they do not understand whom to trust, for they have no clue who is in their favor and who is against them.
Ok, let’s just first understand the meaning of workplace politics or politics at the workplace.
This term can be simplified by calling it organizational politics or workplace politics; it is nothing but the use of social networking within the organization with the use of a power of designation by influencing individuals or groups of people for self-interest with no regard or intention of benefiting the organization. It might include self-interest or personal advantages like a salary hike or promotion by destroying a co-worker’s image at a workplace, a personal grudge, dishonoring a competitor, or even simply for fun.
This factor at the workplace starts with a simple to complicated manipulation. Manipulation of sharing information between relationships within the organization ensures only the required information is leaked and spread. The motive might be a personal or professional advantage. Simple games are played within the organization to disturb and dishonor co-workers or co-workers for self-benefit or, at times, just for fun. Moreover, these games are mind games to win a situation like a good promotion, a great salary hike, for leaders a divide and rule situation, etc.
How to understand you are trapped in workplace politics?
There is no organization or company that does not have politics in the workplace. If you are fed up with this fact of the corporate world and intend to start your own organization to stay away from this dirty part of corporate life, you are sadly mistaken. Even if you own an organization, you will be willingly or unwillingly dragged into workplace politics. Yes, reasons might differ. The best way is to understand that you are being trapped or targeted. Understand people are playing games with you to make sure they disturb you as an individual so that your performance weakens, or maybe they simply want to disturb you mentally. Within the organization, a co-worker is gaming the system, and you are a part of the game, maybe in the lead or the most important part.
Remember, workplace politics is never in favor of the organization, for it only serves to attain personal goals. This situation can be very destructive for the organization as the employee falling prey to this situation is unable to perform well, as it is affecting him either personally or professionally and, more likely, mentally. Before you start handling politics around you, make sure you understand that you are being trapped, why you are being trapped, and who is trapping you.
Track on gossip
So your first step needs to be analyzing the political environment in your office. Keep track of your co-worker’s gossip. Usually, there is one or a maximum of two dirty fishes in the pond. Keep track of what your co-workers have been talking about and to whom it points to. Analyze and read between words and statements smartly. Keep a close track and make sure you are smart and talk less; otherwise, your co-workers might estimate you are keeping a watch.
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Pay attention to rumors.
Not everything that you hear is true. Gossip may turn into rumors which might or might not be true. Maybe co-workers are trying to frame someone or target someone. Unless you know or analyze the facts, do not trust your co-workers or the gossip at work. The gossip might also be against you, so do not share much of your information with your co-workers, as this can be misused.
Find the origin
The origin is where it is coming from, which means where it is starting from. You need to know who has started it and how far the gossip is going. Once you know the origin, it will be easy to understand which track it is going on and its target.
Every action has a target or a motive at a workplace, and if it is to do with some kind of workplace politics, it definitely has some hidden motive. Sometimes the motive is visible even if it is not told; however, the motive is mostly hidden. You must understand the game’s motive when trapped in such a workplace situation. Once you know the motive, you can play around or handle the situation better.
Once you are aware of facts like the type of gossip or politics within the office, the rumors, where it all starts, and the motive of the situation, you need to know the target. You never know who the target is; what if the target is you? You better be careful a lot to come your way. Now, if the target is you, you need to either deal with the situation smartly by turning the game, playing the same game back to its origin, or simply escaping the situation.
Once you know it has all started, you should know what will be your next step for the amazing situation created by co-workers. You now need to jot down the plan for handling the situation at your end, for the ball is in your court.
Handling the situation is next.
Every individual has different methods of dealing with workplace politics. Some people simply like or love their work and do not give any attention to what is going on among co-workers. Whereas some like getting in there and playing games with others. Some are very simple and have no clue that they are being dragged into something they haven’t even dreamt of. Let’s see how we can handle such situations on our end. Here are a few workplace politics survival tips to avoid such situations.
Play the game
Now that you are out there and are playing the game make sure you play it right; simply set a few rules.
Make sure you are making the right choice of playing the game.
Before you enter the game, ensure you are sure of playing the game. If you change your mind later, you will be the one your co-workers will bad-mouth about. If you want to go out there and play it right till the end to win the situation. Also, understand that workplace politics leads to stress and discomfort you need to deal with.
Achievements of the game
Of course, if it is a game, you play it with the motive of winning it. However, what you are winning is important. Do the politics include a motive like deservingly winning this year’s promotion or a good salary hike, or do you want to divide two best co-workers to get the credit of divide and rule? You would not want to get into workplace politics to divide people or simply peep into your co-worker’s personal life to enjoy it. Hence, make sure your achievement motives are ethical.
Make sure your influencing circle is apt.
Either you start the politics or are into a circle where the game is on. Mostly it is the circle. So when you are motivated or influenced by a circle of co-workers into workplace politics, make sure that the information passed on by them is correct or is wise enough to act on or use it in a diplomatic way. The circle of co-workers, information, and motive need to be positive, not negative. Remember, negative influence will pull you down and make you lose interest in work and your company.
Do not support any co-worker.
Workplace politics can get interesting and stressful both at the same time. Being careful is important in such situations; you must never favor any co-worker or support a single person without a valid and just reason, for the situation can go against you. If you want to talk in someone’s favor, choose your words carefully and diplomatically.
Being personal is a big NO.
Being personal with any co-worker, like using personal comments on him or talking about his personal life or habits even behind his back, is not the right way to play a game. Remember, it is not good to pass personal comments; it might also be against the ethical values of a number of companies. Moreover, if you are heard of passing personal comments, you can be fired from the organization’s services.
Be prepared, as it can have a reverse effect.
You are in a vicious circle. It can come back on you as well. So make sure you are prepared for the stress and face the music. If you have efficiency, you will handle it well by dealing with the situation diplomatically and giving it back.
Make sure you understand workplace politics before others understand you.
To win the game, you must ensure you understand the game efficiently. To jump into political situations in the workplace, you must have a complete idea of the entire situation and how to deal with it. You need not just to understand the situation but also understand people before they understand you and your next move. Remember, if players are older players in the game, they might just predict your next move. So you need to be smarter.
A game is played with simply one single motive: Winning. All you need to make sure of is that you get into the game with the motive of winning. Yes, it is a no-looking-back game, as you will be the next target of your co-workers if you leave the game incomplete or halfway. Be strong and simply win your AIMs.
The above rules are definitely for people or employees working in the corporate world who are interested in dealing with workplace politics by getting into the game and playing it either by set rules of the games or setting their own rules for the game. However, we have a number of simple people working in the corporate world who have genuinely no interest in workplace politics or the people involved in the mess. For people who simply want to avoid the situation, a few tips are as follows:
Avoid the game and people involved in it smartly
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Do not ignore your co-workers completely
It is a diplomatic world; you cannot work alone as even you will need support. Make sure you do not ignore your co-workers. Do not get into the gossip; however, whenever there are concerns, give your opinion if someone asks. Keep your communications very clear and to the point; make sure that you are confirming you are not a part of the gossip.
Take assertive steps
In the organization’s best interest, take necessary positive steps to ensure the situation is not affecting work and the organizational atmosphere. Keep roles and agendas clear for each co-worker to avoid conflicts and political situations. Ensure you are not playing a favoritism game; if any co-worker senses the same, they will drag you too into the picture, which will be for no reason.
Follow what you preach.
If you are sure you do not want to get engrossed in workplace politics, make sure you keep minimum interaction with the circle of influencing people. Do not entertain gossip, no favorites, and do not criticize any decision made by the higher authorities so that you are not dragged into the situation. You will be the next target for gossipers at your workplace.
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