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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 November 5, 2020

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

What Is Fear of Failure?

If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

Patterns From Childhood

Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

Over-Personalization

The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

False Self-Confidence

People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

Unhealthy Organization Culture

Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

High Achievers Become Losers

Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

Loss of Creativity

Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

3. Learn to Think Positive

In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

    4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

    Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

    Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

    5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

    There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

    It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

    For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

    6. Have a Backup Plan

    It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

    “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

    Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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    Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

    There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

    7. Learn From Whatever Happens

    Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

    Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

    For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

    Final Thoughts

    To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

    Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

    Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

    More Tips for Conquering Fear

    Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

    Reference

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