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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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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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