Office Politics

Traits: Sneaky, stealthy, cowardly Why They Scare Us: You don’t know when or where this scary co-worker will strike. And often you don’t even know it until some time has passed — and the damage has been done. How to Deal with Them: Confront them. Anyone who goes behind your back won’t be comfortable in a face-to-face situation and will be disarmed.

Today you need one vital ingredient to climb up the corporate ladder that is often overlooked: political savvy. You must be able to practice sensible and ethical office politics.

Have any of these things happened to you on the job?

  • The promotion you expected was given to someone with less experience or expertise.
  • You weren’t invited to the boss’s birthday party, but everyone else was.
  • You were the scapegoat for someone else’s blunder.
  • You were the subject of unpleasant gossip.

If so, you’ve been the victim of office politics. No longer just a power game, utilizing office politics for your benefit is now an important skill for developing a competitive edge and surviving in the marketplace. Build social capital.

Introduce yourself: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become acquainted with everyone in your department. It is essential that you get to know everyone individually. Why is it so crucial that you make the rounds? It demonstrates that you’re a friendly person and that you have an interest in becoming part of the team.

Be friendly: Say “hello” first and greet everyone, from the mailroom person to the big boss. Aside from just being polite, normal, socialized behavior, it gives you an edge as it makes you seem approachable and open, which generally works to your advantage. 

Be helpful: One of the best ways to build allies is by helping a colleague who’s overwhelmed with work. Anticipate ways to be helpful rather than waiting to be asked. Of course, this means extra work for you, but it also means that you’ve got some credit in the “favor bank,” that shadowy “one-hand-washes-the-other” network that makes the world go ’round on a business as well as personal level. (Occasionally, you’ll find people who won’t return a favor even though they gratefully received your help when it was offered. C’est la vie. You’re no idiot. If you give and don’t get, just don’t offer to help that person again.)

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