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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 July 18, 2019

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success.

1. Become Aware of What’s Outside of Your Comfort Zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but, are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts but, your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become Clear About What You Are Aiming to Overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your look? Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get Comfortable with Discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See Failure as a Teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

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Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take Baby Steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

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6. Hang out with Risk Takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. Almost inevitably, their influence will start to have an effect on your behavior.

Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful.

7. Be Honest with Yourself When You Are Trying to Make Excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify How Stepping out Will Benefit You

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

9. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

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If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the Fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Final Thoughts

It will seem really scary at first to get out of your comfort zone. But as I said, you don’t need to jump right out of your comfort zone at once, you can take baby steps gradually.

As you slowly push past your comfort zone, you’ll feel more and more at ease about the new stuff which seemed so dangerous to you.

Take the first step and I’m sure you’ll make it!

More About Stepping out of the Comfort Zone

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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