Saturday, December 9, 2023
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The Office Politics Series: Understanding The Psychology Of The Human Workplace

Office politics. But here's the thing: When we're talking about office politics, all we're really talking about are the unspoken rules of influence that exist in every organization. If you work in your average professional environment, you can't get things done without influence. Those who do the latter are what give office politics a bad name. Once you have a better understanding of how that influence is attained, you have every ability to use that power in a way that is ethical, above board, and to create much better relationships with the people you're working with. People use office politics for these things all the time - we just don't notice them as much as the negative because we're more likely to give our attention to the things we don't like, rather than the things we do. At the end of the day, it's nothing more than adapting your behavior to get the best outcome out a specific situation at work, and hopefully that's an outcome that helps you make progress towards your most important goals. Each day this week, I'm going to publish a new article outlining my five principles of office politics to help you understand and navigate the psychology of the human workplace. Understand their work style will help you adapt to them. At the end of the week, you'll have a playbook that you can use to up your office politics games and use the power for good, not for evil.

Four rules to live by if you’re dealing with office politics

Take a happy, high-functioning team and throw in a dash of favoritism, trash talk, and secrecy, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster in which even the best performers can lose confidence, and engagement can rapidly dip. Office politics are bound to arise, so to ensure you are able to navigate them without losing your cool, keep these four rules in mind: Identify the source, assess the toxicity level, and forecast its timeline Ask yourself the following questions: Have these politics been in place for some time, or are they new? Do you expect them to be short-lived, or long-lasting? Your approach to handling the situation will depend on what the source of trouble is and how long you foresee it lasting. But if the particular issue surrounds a three-month project, you may be able to use this one as a learning opportunity so that the next time a project like this comes up, you’ve shown you’re the right person for the job. Slow down to control how you will react In times of stress, it’s easiest to operate from a place of emotion and let your feelings get the best of you. If you have a trusted mentor, peer, or manager, seek their help to navigate through this challenge, but exercise caution. If you’re looking for validation to make you feel better about the situation, save that for a different conversation (ideally, with someone you don’t work with, otherwise you’re just contributing to the swirl). While office politics exist in just about every environment, they don’t have to get the best of you. Using these four rules, you’ll be able to navigate just about any unpleasant political situation that comes your way.

Why Office Politics Is A Good Thing

For too long now, office politics has gotten a bad rap. You hear the term and it has a taint and perhaps rightfully so in most cases. And, let me be clear: you don’t have to be something you are not to win the political battle. That was political savvy. The authors ask you to imagine how much you could achieve if you put that talent to work in the office. While business is not always fair, and the best guy or gal does not always win, you greatly enhance your chances of fast-tracking your career by being a player and being shrewd without being cutthroat. Take Action Now Here are five suggestions to increase your political acumen: Look closely at how things get done in your organization. Ask people you trust to give you their take on what’s happening behind the scenes and why. Pay attention to changes at the top. Work to build the relationships that make things happen.

Playing Office Politics Without Selling Your Soul

And yet, a more effective way of dealing with office politics is to engage in them — playing the game, instead of complaining about it. Fortunately, not all politics are bad, and there’s a way to play the game without selling your soul. Much of what we mean by corporate “culture” provides clues for understanding office politics. So what is the difference between good and bad politics? Good politics, on the other hand, involve advancing one’s interests but not to the neglect of other people’s rights or the organization’s legitimate interests. Good politics include acceptable ways of getting recognition for your contributions, having your ideas taken seriously, and influencing what other people think and what decisions get made. What’s more, these political skills affect your career independent of your personality and intelligence. On the other hand, a deficit of political skill can derail otherwise intelligent, honest, and hard-working people. And this gets back to the main difference between good and bad politics. There is a way to use the unspoken rules to contribute to the greater good, advance your interests, and maintain your honor and dignity.