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How to Steer Clear of Office Politics

How to Steer Clear of Office Politics
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Going to work in the morning can sometimes feel like walking on to the set of a soap opera, with intrigues, rivalries – it can be a nightmare to navigate through it all and actually get some work done! However these tips can considerably smooth your path and make the office environment a much more pleasant place to be in.

1. Avoid office gossip.

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Participation in gossip is usually the fastest entry point into office politics – usually the person who is letting you in on the latest news is consciously or subconsciously trying to align you with their point of view, or negatively dispose you towards their ‘enemies’. Gossip is very often a two-edged sword: ‘whoever gossips to you will someday gossip about you’, so the Spanish proverb goes. Gossip can also unfairly poison your opinions of your colleagues and influence your judgement if you have to take decisions which affect them.

All of the above sounds like common sense; the chances are many of us realise the destructiveness of gossip and yet continue to indulge in it at the same time. Taking the decision to avoid gossip often requires overcoming your fear about standing out from the crowd. However, it might be possible to take that stand tactfully: one good trick is to deflect the conversation with a question about the gossiper’s own life – they will invariably relish the chance to talk about themselves!

2. Place long-term harmony above short-term gain

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If you happen to disagree with a colleague over the best approach to an issue, try and take your own ego out of it and stand in their shoes for a moment. Office politics often tends to focus on the person rather than the idea, so try and detach one from the other in evaluating the competing approaches. In many cases, there may be little or no difference in the effectiveness of the two rival approaches, and it may be best to just go along with the other idea to keep harmony. A 90% perfect solution done in unison can often be better then the 100% perfect solution which was only achieved at the cost of civil war.

Whatever happens, don’t let a situation build up past the point of no return. It is very easy to hold a grudge against someone as a result of something that didn’t go your way; however these attitudes have a way of hardening into something permanent, to the stage where you feel totally unable to approach that person. Try to keep the lines of communication open to everyone, however slight.

3. Respect others’ territory

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Often people regard their office competencies as their ‘territory’ and will jealously guard them against all-comers. They might feel they have absolute expertise in the area, and are seriously put out if people even question them about what they were doing. Often the best approach in this case is just to let them at it, and keep your own tendency to feel ‘you know how to do everyone’s job better than they do’ in check.

But what if you genuinely do need to make a suggestion? One thing which has worked for me in the past is to draw the person concerned into a conversation on their area of expertise, and genuinely listen. Often this ‘territory’ attitude comes from a feeling of insecurity that no-one values their work, and listening in this way creates a space of trust where they feel you value their opinion, and helps to lower their barriers. It also helps if you aren’t defensive about your own territory, and judge any suggestion on its merits rather than by who said it.

4. Don’t get sucked into the promotion whirlpool

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Of course, one of the main causes of office politics is because we are hoping to advance within the company, leading to the temptation to keep an eye on potential rivals for promotion. What we don’t realise is that all this worrying about others is essentially a lack of faith in ourselves, and that all the problems mentioned in the first three points – gossiping, territory etc. – are just ‘shortcuts’ we take because we are afraid we won’t go places on our performance alone. But conversely, not indulging in these behaviours demonstrates strength, courage, tact and a feeling for managing people – qualities which many companies would kill for! You shouldn’t be afraid about standing out from the crowd for the right reasons – it could pay you back more handsomely than you think.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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