Office politics basically means there is a problem within the workplace. Arguments, gossip, promotions and relationships with colleagues need to be dealt with on a daily basis but you can use these conflicts to your advantage and come out on top:
Choose your reaction wisely.
If someone makes a snide remark, undermines your work or opinion or tells you some juicy gossip about a co-worker, you do have a choice in how you react. Take a breath, think about your options and choose the one which makes you look more professional.
Vent to people outside of work.
Even if you’re close with colleagues and spend most of your time with them, make sure that you have someone else to vent your work related feelings to. Getting angry and exploding with emotion about a work situation can cause tension and more problems. At home, not only will exaggerations and personal feelings not make it back to the office, but you’ll also gain an outsider’s perspective.
“It has nothing to do with me” is heard regularly in most offices. It’s all well and good if it’s not your place to say anything or if you’re using this line to halt gossip but when you’re actually asked for your input, make sure that you give an opinion – the trick is to keep it diplomatic and neutral: sit on the fence without actually sitting on the fence.
Don’t ignore it all together.
If you push the issues to one side, you’ll never know what the outcome was. Listen to what is going on, give neutral advice, and be aware of any changes that are made – the information you gain can be used to your advantage. Whether you find out who is the boss’s pet or how your colleague reacts in a certain situation, all this information can be stored away for future reference.
Keep your private and professional life separate.
The last thing you want is a colleague telling everyone about your vulnerabilities, making you look incapable of working to your potential. To keep that calm ‘ I can deal with anything’ persona, you must do just that: stay calm. Tantrums, fits and emotional outbursts almost always lead to whispers, which will only tip your emotional compass further. Keeping it professional always works in your favour.
Most conflicts are caused by a lack of communication. Crossed wires, misinterpretations and gossip almost always start with someone misunderstanding what was meant by a comment, or not understanding instructions. Take the focus away from your mistakes by fully understanding what is expected of you, what is being implied and be aware of Chinese whispers.
Go straight to the source.
If you have a problem with someone or something that they’ve done, try to rise above it. Ask yourself if you can deal with the situation in your own way: venting away from the office, reacting in a different way or just waiting for the other party to calm down. If there’s no way around it, tell the person causing the problem and involve as few people as possible so as not to be scrutinised by the rest of the office.
When others cause the problem, take the opportunity to come out on top.
If there’s a debate in the office, use the opportunity to show your calm side. Set an example of professionalism and your boss is sure to notice just how little trouble you cause.