Avoid office politics by thinking positive
When a group of people work together every day, there is bound to be “politics”. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and a say, so it is likely that conflicts will occur because of differing opinions.
However, office politics doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you put more effort in dissuading your coworkers from taking part in destructive politics such as gossiping, bullying, or slamming the boss every five minutes, chances are your workplace will become more positive. Yes, this is easier said than done, but if you stay the course, your co-workers will have respect for you and just might follow your lead.
A word of caution; taking the high ground does not mean talking down to colleagues or making them feel as if they are inferior to you. It’s a fine line to walk, but avoid being condescending when trying the following tips:
The easiest way to avoid problems is to get along with people. This does not mean you have to be a pushover. You can be pleasant and professional, while at the same time being assertive when necessary. If you have a concern, focus only on the issue, not on the person. Working with others also means being careful about choosing sides during office power struggles. Instead, try to focus on your tasks, dealing with people in either faction on the basis of the tasks alone, and avoid talk on the political issue that separates the groups. If that issue does come up, stay silent or gently try to change the subject.
Change from within
Praise others, encourage teamwork and be empathetic to your co-workers. By making an effort to change the culture to one of kindness and honesty, you are on the road to creating a better environment for everyone.
Keep office matters to yourself
Does your organization have issues? Have people told you things in confidence? Then keep those matters to yourself. Talking to outsiders about issues within your organization makes all of you look bad to that outsider. People will find out that you spoke about what they told you, and they’ll lose confidence in you and respect for you.
Don’t sink to their level
One way to deal with difficult colleagues is to ask them for a private conversation. Calmly ask them why they acted how they did, rather than accusing them. This is often the best way to change behaviour, as it requires your colleague to reflect on their actions.
The best way to keep out of trouble politically is to be seen as someone who doesn’t get involved with office politics so just don’t play. Do what you say you’re going to do, alert people to problems, and admit your mistakes. Others will respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you. More important, you have a lower chance of being a victim of politics.
Avoid badmouthing the boss
You are on a coffee break and your coworkers start complaining about the boss. You may not feel comfortable about joining in, but if you don’t, it looks awkward in the group. What can you do? Try changing the subject by linking the boss to another topic, then talking about that topic instead. If you feel nervous about trying that, silently finish your coffee, check your phone, and then make a polite excuse to leave the table.
Office politics can happen in any organisation. Just remember that you decide how you will behave and what your boundaries will be.