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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 August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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