If you work with people, you will at some point need to know how to handle office politics. It can get pretty thick sometimes. If you’re fortunate enough to work with a fairly decent group of people and the politics is kept to a minimum then God bless you.
If you’re less fortunate and you’re dealing with it right now, here are a few suggestion to get you through it.
Office politics has ruined careers, caused terminations and even resulted in tears in the ladies room. What exactly is involved? It’s water cooler talk that took a bad turn. It’s favoritism that causes problems. It’s being overlooked for a promotion because of personal disagreements. It’s leveraging authority to make things difficult for another person.
Don’t get me wrong there are employees who benefit from office politics. That benefit however, often comes at the downfall of others.
Some people will say you have to stand up for yourself and speak your mind. Others will tell you it’s best to grin and bear it.
My suggestion is to pick your battles carefully. There are many factors at play when dealing with office politics. There are consequences that you have to consider.
By addressing the problem, you will get it off your chest and no doubt feel a little better. Additionally there could be an amicable outcome after addressing the matter.
But what if things don’t go that way? What if the open door policy is a lie? Believe it or not companies keep track of people who complain and that doesn’t always work in your favor. What if the person you complain to is not confidential or handles the problem in a way that causes more harm than good?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Is this issue something that you absolutely can’t continue tolerating? Is it affecting your position with the company? Do you dread going to work each day because of the problem? If you answer yes to all of these questions then you should consider addressing the issue.
Is the person you plan to talk to confidential? Is he or she fair in their evaluation of a situation? Do you believe this individual will address the matter in a professional way that will result in an acceptable solution? If you answer yes to all of these questions then move forward with a private conversation with your manager or the person you plan to speak to.
Here’s the truth about office politics. It’s awful. It makes you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad on a daily basis. If you can create a solution that brings you peace about the matter, then do it.
If you can’t come to grips on your own, vent outside of work. If you decide you must address the problem at work, then do so very carefully with someone you trust. If possible, document occurrences of the issue (if it’s an ongoing problem). This will provide proof of the issue when you discuss it.
At the end of the day, it’s important that you have peace of mind. Here’s a recap on how to handle office politics:
- Decide if the problem is really worth addressing at work
- Try to create a personal solution that will make you feel better, like venting at home or reducing your interaction the problem
- If it’s really bad and you do have to address the problem, have documentation if possible and make sure you speak to the right person
- If all else fails and the problem persists maybe it’s time you evaluate if you belong in that position, in that department or even in that company
Remember this, not everyone you meet will think the world of you and that’s okay because there are tons of people who do. The next time you’re wondering how to handle office politics, know that the culprit is usually not even worth the energy you spend thinking about them.
Share your office politics stories below.