Every single office job I’ve held, I have seen office politics at play. It’s inevitable that when a group of very differently minded individuals get together, the result is an environment not unlike a competitive backstabbing high school. Of course this isn’t always the case, but it does happen. There are many things you can do to deal with office politics. You can decide to play along or completely stay out of it. I’ve done both and there are negatives and positives to both. While staying out of the gossip and drama of an office setting is definitely less stressful, keeping up with your work environment may also help you in the long run.
The number one rule in dealing with office politics is to never lose your cool. Whether a coworker takes credit for your idea or you hear that someone has been bad mouthing you to your boss, stay calm and if an outburst is to be had, make it at another time and place. Always stay professional because a sudden burst of erratic emotion is never forgotten and may affect you in the long run in terms of promotions.
Along with keeping your emotions in check, never take sides. Staying in the middle will allow you to communicate with both sides effectively, build trust and will keep you in good standing with everyone. A work environment should stay professional and refusing to take sides will show your boss and whoever is at odds that you can be professional and not show favoritism.
Besides learning to communicate effectively with those in your office, make sure to observe what is going on around you. Office politics are constantly at play and knowing what works and what doesn’t in your particular setting will definitely put you at an edge. Does your work value quality over quantity? Overt risk or extreme caution? Short-term or long-term results? These are all important things to take in in order to learn what type office politics take place in your work.
Above all, always make sure that your are comfortable with the decisions you are making. You do have a choice at work and whether you decide to stay completely out of it or adapt and play, office politics will always be there. However, if you are made to feel uncomfortable or are just not at ease with what your coworkers or supervisors are doing, then maybe it’s time to rethink your work environment.