Toeing the Line - How to Manage Office Politics

Everyone who has worked in an office, large or small, has most likely encountered the fine world of office politics. You know, the unstated yet nonetheless strategic game-play that's required to move forward, and even move up within a company. Although it can be quite frustrating, understanding this world and how to survive and succeed in it is essential for everyone in business. Utilizing the suggestions below will help you navigate through those tricky (and oftentimes murky) political waters:




  • Accept the Obvious: To some degree, office politics happen in every workplace environment and in every industry. Once you accept this fact, you can think about how you are going to play the game and move forward. Spending all of your time worrying about the day-to-day dramas at work will only serve to distract you from the work you should be concentrating on which certainly won’t help improve your job performance. In fact, focusing on the negative aspects of office-life can adversely affect the manner in which you perform and may even cost you your job.
  • Forgive and Forget: If you feel as though you have been wronged by a co-worker in some way, make sure to take a step back before immediately confronting the person. Once you’ve had a chance to consider the events that transpired from all angles, it is important to address the issue by confronting the person directly. After having a conversation, it’s important to shake hands and move on. Bearing a grudge, or even worse, trying to retaliate, will only damage your own reputation. Rising above petty behavior and refusing to engage in it will soon earn you the reputation of someone of high integrity. After all, there is nothing to be gained from laying down with dogs, unless you hope to wake up with fleas.
  • Fight Fair: Sometimes this world can be quite vicious, and there’s no way to avoid playing the game. Before you act, however, make sure that you’re focused on the issue at hand, rather than the person. Business should remain business, and ideally, it should never be personal. Handle any and all confrontations privately and avoid spreading rumors to your colleagues. Drama distracts everyone from doing their job and eventually those who insist on creating strife will be confronted by their superiors. Make sure you don’t allow yourself to be the one on the receiving end of the reprimands.
  • Hire Intelligently: If you’re in a position that involves hiring others, it is essential that you screen all of your potential employees carefully. Provide various situations-either hypothetical or real- and ask your candidates how they would react to different situations. By gaging how an individual would react to potential conflict, you can help avoid actual conflict from arising. If it’s your job to do so, then do it well and save everyone the hassle of dealing with a bad employee.
  • Play Nice: After all, courtesy, basic office etiquette, politeness, and respect all begin and end with you. It is your responsibility to treat others the way you would want to be treated and to set a good example for everyone else. Some of this might sound quite trivial, however, the term “office politics” exists for a reason. Like it or not, you have to be very clear regarding how you allow others to treat you. And it is typically based on how you decide to treat others. Bad behavior is never acceptable, and the office is certainly no exception.
  • Remain Calm: Nothing that happens at your office is worth causing you a great deal of stress that you carry home with you. Not only can it affect your health, it can also impact your overall state of mind. Consider whether the issue will bother you in a year, or even a month. By keeping things in perspective you’ll be less likely to let your emotions get the best of you, and you’ll be able to move on without a negative reaction.

Bottom Line: Getting caught up in office politics is often unavoidable. However, learning from each situation will only serve to help you in the next round of conflict.