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The Games People Play: Office Politics

Office politics can be crazy, murky and scary. But there is no way of escaping it. But what you can do is minimise your chances of getting embroiled in some nasty business

Oct 19, 2010 12:40 IST
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The Games People Play: Office Politics
The Games People Play: Office Politics

Office politics can be crazy, murky and scary. But there is no way of escaping it. But what you can do is minimise your chances of getting embroiled in some nasty business

Have you been relying on your job skills and hard work? Do you wonder why your efforts are not paying off? Are you also one out of the millions of people who attribute their failure to office politics?

‘If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves’, observed Lane Kirkland. The rich surely do not need to work hard. But even to become successful in life, you need a lot more than just hard work. While being good with your job is a pre-requisite, you need to have some social skills to mark your presence.

It is time to turn the tables and mould office politics to your advantage. Office politics is not an outlandish concept as we all treat it. They are the same kind of problems that we face in a relationship or whenever we associate closely with a group of people. People always have different ideas and there is always a clash of interests. Any organisation is bound to have some sort of politics at work. Office politics cannot be understood as a monster eating up your career. Rather, it should be used for selling yourself to others.

Be real and face it. There are no fair rules in a jungle. Make sure you have what it requires today to reach the top.

Gel well: Being nice to everyone in office reduces the risk of getting caught in a political intrigue. Getting along with everyone was never easy. Few people actually possess this skill. Try and be cordial to every person in office. Never miss a chance to help out your colleagues with little things. Little things leave a big impression.

• Never get personal: Do not let your personal likes or dislikes affect your work. Strictly think about your career and think before you say something or take a decision regarding someone. Wait till you reach home to vent out your personal grudges.
• Seal your lips: Never end up giving away information that can go against your interests. For example, telling your colleagues about your salary might cause resentment amongst them if you are earning more, especially when they serve in the same capacity as you or are senior to you. Avoid discussing your career plans in office.
• Resolve conflicts: Do not act too smart and play one gang against the other. Fueling a conflict will hardly ever prove to be a good career move. Usually, this kind of strategy backfires sooner or later. Avoid taking sides and try to assume the position of a mediator. Suggest a resolution that is beneficial to both sides. Staying away from office politics is not always a good idea.  You will never stand out in office and get noticed.  Worse, your coworkers might think you are too diplomatic and shun you.
• Be mindful of long term goals: Consider your long term objectives before taking any decision. Do not fall prey to emotional outbursts which will provide you with short term satisfaction. You should see what is more suitable for your work and business. Use your head and not your heart!
• Interact with colleagues: Keep track of the latest happenings in office to be able to use it to your own advantage. It is important for you to understand that you can make a conscious choice in any case that might arise out of politicking. Understand others first, listen carefully to both sides and then voice your opinion. Openly admit if you realise it is your mistake. Never be afraid to apologise. 
• Keep a record: Make sure you have a proof of all official dealings. Document everything well, it will help you avoid the blame game. Then you can provide evidence of having finished work at your end.

It always helps to add humour to a tense conflict situation in office. You should aim to be liked by everyone in office. Use office politics not to harm others but to create your own lobby. Simply, you should build a coterie of people who will be fond of you. It will be easier for you in the event of an increment or promotion if your colleagues can digest it well. Make people buy your success.

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