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11 Things Only People Who Suffer From Office Politics Would Understand

11 Things Only People Who Suffer From Office Politics Would Understand

Whenever a group of people get together, there is gossip and the spreading of rumor. These are usually short-lived periods of time – a party, a happy hour, a weekend jaunt with friends. But what if the gossip, the rumor, the back-stabbing and more are permanent conditions that a person lives with every day at the office? Then these behaviors become a constant source of anxiety, anger, and a real danger to job security.

Those people who engage in “office politics” usually do so out of fear and insecurity – fear that they will not be held in high esteem by their bosses and co-workers, and insecurity about their positions because their performances are pretty mediocre. The problem is their behaviors usually mean that others become victims. And only victims of office politics will understand the following 11 things that office politickers can do to make their lives miserable.

1. They Try to Drag You into their Lairs

They have plans. They want to sabotage the reputation or the work of others and they want you to take part in those plans. You don’t want to be involved, but the culprit seems to be a “favorite” of the boss, and if you don’t go along you could be next. You are asked not to share work with this other person or to be too busy to collaborate with them to get something completed. Caught in the middle, you find yourself avoiding both of these people. The pressure is so stressful that you start looking to change departments and use up all of your sick leave looking for another job.

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2. They will try to get you to be disloyal to others on the team or your boss.

There are people who believe they can move up in an organization by being disloyal and by undermining others; sometimes this even works. And being disloyal takes on many forms. Sometimes it means that the politickers do a deliberately poor job on a project to make someone else or their boss look bad. When you don’t want to “play this game” and you are committed to always doing your best, you are seen as a “traitor” to these folks.

One victim tells a story of a collaborative project she was working on with two co-workers who were real “snakes.” They hated their boss and wanted to discredit him. When the boss approved the project and told them to send it on to the district manager, they imbedded a link to a porn site in the text before sending it on in their boss’s name. The employee was so upset by this, she privately told the boss, who was then able to repair the damage and fire the other two employees. The word got out, however, and she became a “leper” to everyone else in the office. She ultimately quit.

3. They try to get you to engage in gossip and spread office rumors.

That co-worker who just got the promotion? She is obviously sleeping with the boss. Lunch in the company cafeteria becomes a gossip and bashing session that gives you indigestion and heartburn. Rather than spend all of your extra cash on acid reducers, you then have to find excuses to eat at your desk or run errands during lunch hour just to avoid it all. And if you do this too often, they come to see you as “not one of them” and you lose cooperation when you need it to get things done. You feel isolated and alone and start a job search.

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4. They undermine and shun you if your work is “too good.”

If you stay late to finish up a task or project, if you take work home with you to meet a deadline, or if your work product is just too well done, you are a “suck-up,” deliberately trying to make them look bad and find special favor with the boss. You have a strong work ethic and you are committed to doing your best at everything. Now you are stuck between doing less than your best to be a “team player” or sticking with your work ethic and incurring their anger.

One employee was in charge of doing the background research for a major consulting presentation that the boss was going to make to a potential client. A couple of team members were upset that he was getting so many compliments from the boss on his work. When he submitted his portion of the presentation to the team leader, it was altered before going on to the boss. He had no idea until the boss expressed his disappointment with his work. Fortunately, he had a copy of the original and was able to provide it. Because the boss did nothing to rectify the situation, he found that he had to be sure to back up everything he produced and submit it separately to the boss. This situation was intolerable and that boss ultimately lost a good employee.

5. They help and cooperate until you start getting too many compliments from the boss.

Once they see you as being more “favored,” they are threatened. Now they have to sabotage you in subtle ways, or, maybe, not so subtle ways. One individual reported that she arrived at the office one morning to find a large sales data base file that she managed for the whole office was corrupted and unusable. She suspected two co-workers of the deed, because she had not shut down her computer properly the night before, and they were still there when she left for the day. What they did not know, however, was that she had a data base recovery software in place that allowed her to restore the entire file. While she was unable to prove that two co-workers had probably conspired to do that, she certainly never left the office again without fully shutting down her computer. After fending off a few other attempts to sabotage her work, she decided to fight the situation by addressing it with her boss. His response was that he was certain she was being a bit paranoid, and that those events may have just been errors on her part. Obviously, she promptly began a job search.

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6. They engage in “turf” wars.

Politickers are very much like the child in the sandbox who will not share his/her toys with anyone, no matter how much another child may need a particular utensil to finish a creation. They never outgrow these turf wars, probably due to deep-seated insecurities, but God help the person in the office who encroaches into an area of responsibility that belongs to this person.

When one co-worker had called in sick, and a project was due, another co-worker stepped in to finish it. When the absent co-worker returned the next day, he was furious that his work had been usurped and turned into the boss. He wanted to be the one to turn it in. The co-worker explained that he had been given credit for the project, but that did not matter. From that point forward the “injured” co-worker refused to cooperate in any way and, in fact, developed a habit of withholding important information, just to make his “enemy” have to work harder to locate it on his own.

7. They can play the “gender” game with co-workers of the opposite sex.

One school administrator tells a funny story from several years ago. She was promoted to associate principal and athletic director of a very large high school in the Midwest. Athletics was huge, and the coaches who had been passed over for the position were just waiting for her to fail. That was obvious when their cooperation was less than forthcoming. One of her responsibilities was to attend a monthly meeting with the athletic directors of all the schools in their conference – all of them men. After the first meeting, which went fairly well, she returned to her school district and made a report to the Superintendent. In the conversation, he expressed surprise that she was back so soon, because the group always went out for a meal and a beer afterward. As the next monthly meeting was ending, she said to the group, “Where are we going to eat?” They had no choice. She surprised them all with her ability to talk sports, and they were quite impressed that she had personally followed college football avidly. She was even able to describe and draw some particularly unique plays that had been used. The coaches waiting for her to fail never got their wish. She became a respected athletic director in that state.

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8. They try to “play” you against a co-worker or your boss.

The scenario goes like this. A co-worker comes to you wanting to tell you something confidentially – something bad that a co-worker or your boss said about you to them, but you can’t repeat it because it also was told in confidence. The “do-gooder” just wants you to know what was said.

You are devastated. And your attitude toward that co-worker or boss changes big-time. They sense it of course, and the relationship deteriorates. You retreat emotionally at work, and, ultimately, you begin to look for another job. The culprit has just neutralized you as a competitor.

9. They will try to get you to criticize or say negative things about your boss.

It begins rather innocently. A co-worker comes to your desk or office and expresses frustration with the boss – maybe an unreasonable deadline or a disagreement on how to proceed with a client. You express empathy and in so doing agree that sometimes that boss can be unreasonable and too demanding. The words are out and they will be repeated to others, ultimately making their way up the chain to the boss. And you are left wondering why you don’t get the good projects anymore – projects in which you can demonstrate your expertise and your value.

10. They gain your confidence and then use it against you

A team member welcomes you aboard, invites you out to lunch, and goes out of his/her way to help you become acclimated. They becomes a good friend and you begin to socialize together – going out for drinks after work, playing tennis on the weekends, and so forth. You begin to share some “secrets,” like the fact that you have been known to occasionally use a little pot, during non-work hours of course. When your job performance begins to be recognized and praised, the snake is threatened. Pretty soon, the fact that you use pot is all over the office, and the boss calls you in for a “meeting.”

11. They will steal your ideas and present them as their own.

This is probably one of the most common backstabbing techniques of the really insecure culprit. When you express an idea or a potential solution to a problem, it might be rejected as impractical. All of a sudden, that idea or solution has been presented to the boss and he praised it.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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