When I tell people that I am a career success coach, I often get the response, “Oh you help people with handling organizational politics.” My answer is, “No. I how people how to create the life and career success they want and deserve.
However, I realize that politics are part of work — and career success. You can’t escape them. The other day, I came across ten pieces of great career advice on office politics on the Ms. Career Girl site. I’m sharing them here…
How to Deal With Office Politics
Every workplace has the shroud of office politics. There will inevitably one or two people who love to jockey for position, love to spread rumors, and want to get ahead by spreading their version of the truth. Office politics have been the cause of stress, firing, and transfers since the idea of offices were first instituted.
1) Avoid office gossip: When you first join a workplace, you start with a clean slate. You know your immediate boss and the people with whom you work, but little else. This quickly changes when the local office gossip starts talking. They will spread their personal opinions and cloud your initial impressions. Stay away from the office gossip.
2) Stay focused: The best way to avoid office politics is to stay focused on your work. You were hired to do a job, and that job should not be interrupted to listen to stories about dating and relationships. When the rumors start flying, take the opportunity to design more streamlined processes for the company. Invent new product lines. Devote yourself to your work.
3) Reveal little personal information: Talk to your coworkers, but keep it within the realm of small talk. Talk about the weather, but not about your church. Talk about how many cases of paper that you will need, but avoid conversations about the latest voting cycle. You give the rumor mill ammunition when you talk about your personal life.
4) Listen to people: Listen to everyone within your company. Do not engage them in conversation, but allow them to speak with you. If people want to talk to you, listen with an open mind, but do not offer your opinions on the situation. Be seen as the neutral party who will listen to everyone.
5) Make your agenda visible: Make your agenda known to your coworkers. You are a team player. You do not want to play political games, because that dilutes the message that your company wishes to send to its customers. You should reveal that you are strictly working for the paycheck, nothing more.
6) Be who you are: If you are yourself all the time, there are no worries about how you should act. Do not act like a servant to some coworkers and a master to others. Be aware of your position within the company’s hierarchy, but do not let that affect your words. In order to avoid the political quagmire, make everyone realize that you are exactly the person that you present.
7) Questions should be private: If there is something which is truly bothering you about your company, raise questions to your boss in private. Do not bring those questions up with coworkers or other individuals. State your opinions of a situation in a calm, professional manner. Do not use the common areas as a forum to air your personal conflicts with the company’s decisions.
8) Say only good things: It is hard to resist engaging yourself in office politics. When you are asked your opinions about a coworker, talk about their strengths. Engage the egos of the other members of your team by spreading only compliments about your coworkers. If you have not interacted with someone, tell the truth.
9) Walk away: If someone starts gossiping about people within your office, take every opportunity to walk away from that person. Change the subject or say something good about the person.
10) Stay positive: Keep a great attitude about your office. That smile is contagious. Every office needs a little spot of joy. Keep only positive individuals around you. Everyone has problems and sorrows in their life, but work is not the place to talk about your personal drama.
Avoid the politics of your office, as it can only lead to trouble. Take the time to cultivate your position of being the neutral party. You want to be a resource for information. When you walk away from political maneuvering, you are a better person.
I love this career advice, but I have one quibble. It’s in point 5. I think it’s a bad idea to say that “you are strictly working for the paycheck.” This statement might result in you becoming the target of office gossip; someone who really doesn’t care, someone who just wants to collect a paycheck and is not a team player. My best career advice is to say that you want to focus on your work and doing a good job.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Office politics can kill your career success. The folks at Ms. Career Girl offer some great career advice on staying out of office politics. Avoid office gossip. Stay focused. Reveal little personal information. Listen to people. Make your agenda visible. Be who you are. Questions should be private. Say only good things. Walk away. Stay positive. Following this career advice will keep you out of trouble and moving forward to your life and career success.
That’s my take on the career advice in Ms. Career Girl’s 10 tips for dealing with office politics. What’s yours? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, thanks for reading.