Office Politics: Top 7 Tips for Surviving Office Politics
By Kevin Kearns
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The race for the U.S. Presidency is finally over. Regardless of your political affiliation, you probably wish politics did not get so negative and dirty. Realistically, wishing for a clean presidential race and a little over $4.00 can buy you a non-fat soy, vanilla-mocha, triple-iced, latte. Wishing without action adds little value. If you want cleaner presidential politics, take action towards making it that way.
Office politics also require you to be proactive. You must act in a manner that will bring about your desired change. These seven tips will help you move your organization in a more positive direction.
- Don't Listen: La la la la, I can't hear you. If nobody listened to the junk that people spread around at work, the excitement of the junk would be lost. The junk spreaders would stop. Put simply, they will not keep selling what people never buy. However, if you buy it once in a while when you think it's "okay," that is enough to keep the junk machine in business. Junk is often easy to recognize: if the person makes sure the coast is clear before they tell you and the information makes you think "ooohhh" - it might be junk.
- Ask Why: Why am I saying this? Are you passing information for the good of the organization or a person? Or is it simply for the joy of having the scoop on someone? Be careful not to do the same stuff that upsets you when it happens to your name. If you are not sure - then bite your tongue and don't say anything until you are sure.
- The Muck Stops Here: Bob's a jerk; DON'T pass it on! Sometimes it is awkward to outwardly protest the "spinning" of others. In those cases, simply let the spin stop with you. The more people fail to pass stuff on, the quicker it dies.
- Stand on Your Own: Don't recruit allies to agree with you. It feels good when people validate our stance on matters. The downside to seeking validation at work is that people will say they agree with you when they don't. They do it to avoid conflict, and sometimes do it to cause conflict between other people. If you know you are right, be brave enough to be right on your own. In most cases, people will respect your approach and any damage to your reputation will be avoided.
- Ask Mr. Ed: Get the truth from the horse's mouth. Many political battles could be avoided if people had the courage to ask what was said and what was meant by it. Stop yourself from shouting out "Oh no she didn't, she is the last person that should be saying ..." Instead, get the facts and settle it at the same time.
- Forgive & Forget: Don't get mad or even. I know, forgiving and forgetting is easier read than done! However, as leaders it is important for you to look at the end result you want. Will holding a grudge help you reach your vision? Probably not. We are at work to do a job and I have yet to see grudge holding listed in any job description (not even in Other Duties as Assigned.)
- Every Vote Counts: Value everyone. Earl Nightingale once said, "treat everyone as though they are the most important person in the world, because to them they are." Treat every person with respect for no other reason than they deserve to be treated with respect. If you do, you won't have to worry about office politics. Imagine if everyone showed value to everyone else. It has to start somewhere, I say it should start with leaders like you.
You may not be running for the highest political office in the land, but I am sure you have seen the negative impact of a smear campaign. Who needs television ads when you have the office grapevine? Now that you have read these seven tips, you have a responsibility to help keep your grapevine healthy. Stay committed and before you know it, sour grapes will be the exception instead of the rule!
Kevin Kearns is President of Kearns Advantage (http://www.kearnsadvantage.com), a leadership coaching company. Kearns Advantage works with business leaders to define and improve results, guaranteed! Kevin holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. Kevin also mediates business disputes for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.
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Article Submitted On: November 21, 2004