• Jennifer Flaa

4 Tips on Bullet-Proofing Yourself from Office Politics

The harsh reality of job world or is that there is Politics. It doesn't always matter that you are the smartest, kindest and best communicator in the room. You must know how to bulletproof yourself from politics or politics can sink your career.

Climbing the corporate ladder and navigating interpersonal relationships in the workplace can be tricky, and cliquey. Company culture can set the general tone, but people are people and are apt to form alliances.

Work typically involves dealing with people and that always comes with some level of baggage. Balancing success, people, personal sanity and professionalism can be a delicate dance — one that’s not without its pitfalls.

Avoid Stepping On to Step Up

It’s tempting to play the game to your advantage, but when trying to climb that ladder, consider who you may be stepping on and how that may affect your future in the company — and your relationships within it.

Not to say you shouldn’t be looking out for #1 (you should be) but it ought to come from a place of honest hard work and thoughtful, fair strategy. If you have to tear down others and scheme to get what you want, that win won’t be very satisfying, and you’ll likely form enemies.

Never feel guilty for surpassing others on your own genuine merit — just make sure it’s something you can feel proud of in the long run.

Remember, the industry is actually small and someone you step on today may be your boss tomorrow or may be in the position to hire you somewhere else in the future.

Chill Out on Watercooler Talk

Break time can easily turn into gossip time if you aren’t careful. When you’re tempted to engage, just

imagine your superior or colleague is right around the corner, listening. Would he or she be upset with what you are saying?

Consider it, because they COULD be right around the corner, listening.

Fueling gossip is an unhealthy practice that can actually cause roadblocks in your career. Continually maintaining friendly professionalism, while sometimes boring, will protect you from messy office politics you don’t have the time or energy to deal with.

In an iffy situation, just beg off with a funny turn of phrase like “I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole!” or change the subject as gracefully as possible. "What are you doing this weekend?"

Stay Cool During Co-Worker Conflict

While it’s a pretty easy choice not to gossip or backstab others in the workplace, that doesn’t mean someone won’t do it to you.

While all situations are different, your response when attacked should be one of coolness and confidence.

Whether or not you did something to deserve your co-workers’ distain or not, avoid defensiveness and try to resolve the situation calmly and reasonably.

Always try to take the high road, even though at times it may seem impossible — you will come out on top as far as professionalism goes, regardless of the situation.

If you made a mistake, own up to it and don’t make a million excuses — instead, try to figure out a way to fix it. If you are being unjustly accused or bullied, channel your inner CEO and respond thoughtfully without showing too much emotion — most of the time people just want to see you crack.

That said, if you are being harassed or sabotaged and it’s not a typical professional butting of heads, don’t be afraid to talk to your superiors or HR.

Navigate Hidden Agendas Gracefully

Hidden agendas aren't really that hidden. Everyone wants to do well and be rewarded (via $$ or promotion). Remember that and consider how your work impacts your co-workers and extended team.

How is what you do impacting their ability to do a quality job or deliver on time?

In unhealthy environments, some people may have a hidden agenda to "stick it to" a co-worker or make

someone look bad.

  • Identify these people

  • Stay out of their way - you don't want to be their next target!

  • If you are the target - call them out (in private). "I feel like you are trying to sabotage me. Why?" Make sure you have examples so they can't deny it!

Written by: Jennifer Flaa, Kate Iverson and Gaurav Padwardhan


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