Human beings are naturally social creatures, so politics are present in just about every interaction. The workplace is no exception. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be sucked into petty conflicts or drama. Here are some suggestions for rising above office politics, and thriving in the social environment of your workplace.
#1 – Make Friends, Not Enemies
You don’t have to hang out with everybody that works in your office, but make an effort to be friendly with all of your coworkers. Not only will it make life around the office that much easier, but you won’t get roped in to one “group” over another. Often times there can be clashes between two cliques that cause a rough working environment, which makes it harder to be productive. If you are on good terms with everybody then office politics won’t dictate the quality of your work.
#2 – Keep Your Thoughts To Yourself (and Offline)
Chances are there are going to be some people that work in your office or some decisions made that you disagree with. It’s natural to have negative thoughts, but be sure to keep them to yourself. You may think that you’re telling a fellow employee something in confidence, but secrets have a tendency of getting out. If you don’t want a coworker or boss to find out something you said about him or her then don’t say it.
The same goes for outside of work. You never know what might get out from what seems like an innocent conversation. Never resort to Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking sites to vent about anything from work. No matter what privacy settings you have set up, once you put something up on the Internet it’s there forever. The Huffington Post offers a cautionary look at some tweets that have gotten people fired.
# 3 – Offer To Help
When an opportunity arises to assist a coworker with something around the office, volunteer to help out. It doesn’t have to be anything too extreme, but little things can go a long way. For instance, you could offer a ride to someone who lives in the same direction, help someone clean up a mess, or even something as simple as hold the door open for people. Not only will you be helping them out, but you will also be helping yourself out in the long run. People tend to remember good deeds, which can only work to your advantage in the office political game, as well as when getting work done.
#4 – Don’t Play the Game
The best way to stay away from office politics is to simply stay away from them. Employees all too often tailor what they are doing in hopes that it will raise their “stock.” Not playing the game will cause you to be seen as a straight arrow, which can definitely be a good thing. Simply do the best with your work, admit your mistakes when you make them and don’t be overly critical of other people. It’s fine to alert someone to a problem if they’ve made a correctable mistake, but no need to rub it in their face or tell other people. If you find other employees engaging in gossip, do your best not to get involved or add input.
#5 – Stay On Top Of Things
Make sure to note any potential problems and document things that happen in case they come up later. A lot of problems between coworkers turn into a heated “he said, she said” debate, but if you have a record of the encounter then you can keep yourself covered. Moreover, it's a good idea to document your accomplishments, and to save yourself if anyone tries to take credit for your work.
Office politics can be a dirty game, but if you keep your nose clean and do the best you can then you should come away unscathed.