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11 Tips You Need To Take To Win In Office Politics

11 Tips You Need To Take To Win In Office Politics

We’ve all been there. There’s that one boss or co-worker who makes your life a living nightmare. It could be that your boss is a compulsive liar or has favorites on the team. It could also be that you have problems with the corporate culture and its rigid rules that must be followed exactly for your work to be “acceptable.” Office politics are difficult for everyone, and some people handle it much better than others. So what’s the difference? Why do some people know how to jump through the hoops and cut the red tape better than others?

Here are 11 things they know how to do, that you should too.

1. Kiss up to difficult people and tell them that they are great

Everyone likes to have nice things said about them, especially difficult people. They like their egos stroked, so just do it! Sure, it’s fake. You’re probably thinking that you shouldn’t have to stoop to that level just to get along with problem people. However, if this problem person is your boss, you have no choice. I have been in situations where some people don’t have a filter for their dislike of their boss (or co-workers). It does not turn out pretty. So, learn to fake it. It may not sound like a great thing to do, but it’s the only thing you can do to win in office politics, especially if the person is your superior.

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2. Make your body language match your fakery

Actions speak louder than words. There is actual research to back this up. If a verbal message (“I think your awesome!”) is accompanied by negative body language (eye-rolling or scrowls on your face), the person will always believe your nonverbals. It’s hard to control your body language because it’s tied to your emotions. You must make an effort to be aware of what you are saying with your body. Smile! Nod! Tilt your head! Laugh! “Fake it ‘til you make it!”

3. Take notes from others

Okay, so maybe you’re not good at faking it. Many of us aren’t, so maybe you don’t even know where to start. What should you say? How should you act? If you really have no idea, just look around. Study how your colleagues handle the difficult person. Pay attention to the colleagues who generally seem to be accepted. Study them, then mimic what they do.

4. Remember your “enemy” is just a human being

These difficult people in your office are the bullies from the playground who grew up and are still making life problematic for others. As the saying goes: Hurt people hurt people. Have empathy for them. They are probably miserable, or don’t like themselves. You don’t know the kind of childhood they experienced. It must have been bad if they don’t know how to treat people kindly, or with respect. Although they may try to have a holier-than-thou attitude, they might have low self-esteem. Treat them as you would like to be treated.

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5. Thank them and listen to them

No one likes to receive criticism. Your friends in the workplace may not point out how you can improve, but you can certainly count on the difficult boss to do that! Criticism is not always a bad thing. It can force us to become a better person.

6. Stay away from power struggles

Most of the time, power struggles are at the root of office politics. Some people have big egos and, if two of them collide, it can be explosive. Usually, the fight isn’t about the topic at hand. They are just fighting to “win.” Many people approach conflict with a “win-lose” attitude. This attitude fuels the political fire and destroys the organizational culture. Don’t get involved so you don’t get in the line of that fire.

7. Be careful who you trust

Trusting others isn’t always a good thing. Trust me, I know. Sit back and assess people and their personalities. Listen to their words, and more importantly, observe their behavior. You must live on the side of caution when it comes to sharing information, especially if it’s negative. View everyone you talk to as a potential spy who might bring information back to the enemy. It may sound cynical, but it’s self-preservation. Hopefully, you have true friends you can trust in the workplace, but don’t go around sharing your thoughts and feelings too freely.

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8. Be nice to everyone

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. When people are nasty to you, it puts you in a defensive mode. You may want to strike back and destroy the other person like they destroyed you. Obviously, this does not contribute to a supportive office environment! Be nice, instead. Be nice especially the ones who aren’t nice to you. Eventually, you will notice that they will become more tolerable because you are not giving them any reasons to attack you.

9. Don’t dismiss or criticize–Ask questions instead

I’ve seen it happen so many times, especially in meetings. When someone disagrees with another person, they have a tendency to criticize the person, not the idea. Separate the person from their ideas. They’re not bad because you don’t like what they are saying. Instead, ask them questions about their ideas. Well thought-out ideas will be easily supported. If the person cannot come up with good evidence as to why their solution is better, maybe they will see the light through your questioning process.

10. Build consensus

As I mentioned in #6, many people view conflict as a battle of wills. This attitude only breaks down the whole office atmosphere, and it breeds contempt. Instead of a “me vs. you” attitude, have a “we” attitude. Together, you all need to solve a problem or finish a project. Act like a team. View yourselves as a unit instead of individuals who are fighting to win. Find areas of agreement and build upon that.

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11. Don’t bring a bad attitude home with you

When people are stressed out at work because of office politics, it is easy to let it spill over into your personal life. You might be nasty to your spouse, your kids, or your friends. Remember, these people are not the cause of your stress–the office is. Leave work problems at work. Don’t worry, they’ll be waiting for you when you return.

Remember, don’t give the office politics the power to ruin the rest of your life. Block it out when you’re at home and be happy with what you have.

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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