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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 January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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