Navigating office politics

In as much we like to believe that office politics do not exist in our work place; they do and can be a nightmare to deal with especially if you don’t know how to negotiate them.  Too many ambitious professionals try to navigate office politics by pretending corporate politics don’t exist and end up buckling under the pressure and hostility.  Once you know how to navigate through the office politics arena, your work life should improve. In this article we’ll be looking at some of the ways in which you can deal with office politics.


It is important to face reality and know that we cannot avoid office politics. Granted, when we first set foot in to the job market, we all have a vision of a corporate meritocracy where everyone does their absolute best at their job and promotions are awarded to those most hardworking, diligent employees but this is sadly not the case. That being said it is therefore possible to use office politics to your advantage. Put yourself out there and engage with individuals you are more likely to gain success from.


For the most part, office politics are viewed negatively and most people do not want to get involved. This primarily due to the fact that the individuals involved are mean spirited and will stop at nothing to climb the corporate ladder. This doesn’t have to be the case. When used effectively and for good, office politics can be an extremely powerful and effective tool to advance your career goals. Seek out more positive interactions with your colleagues and discuss ways in which you can all succeed. Look for like-minded individuals and form strong alliances with them.


A great way to set yourself apart and avoid the drama is to develop your personal brand. Do this by demonstrating high quality work daily. If you are known to be someone who is consistent and diligent at their job and produces quality work, then you are more likely to be trusted by your seniors. This will in turn lead to more independence and autonomy because you can be trusted to do your job well. This will likely lead to you getting more responsibility in the workplace.


If you truly want to be someone who can demonstrate your value, influence and level of importance in the workplace, then you cannot afford to keep your head down and ignore all the emerging issues in an effort to stay neutral and avoid discourse. There are two types of conflict that may arise in the work place i.e. professional conflict and personal conflict. By all means avoid all personal conflict in the workplace, however, do not shy away from professional conflict that directly affects you or the company. These can include conflicts relating to work quality, company time and resources as well as various issues that may be hindering you from doing your job well. Engage in important conflicts and avoid the petty ones.


The workplace environment is made up of people from various cultures, socio-economic backgrounds etc. Each of these individuals have their own sets of beliefs and views on various issues. Sometimes it will be difficult to get along with everyone you work with, however at the end of the day you must remain professional in order to achieve your own career goals as well as the company goals. In this regard, try to be civil as you engage with your colleagues and feel free to distance yourself from individuals you don’t necessarily see eye to eye with while still maintaining professionalism. Remember, you don’t want to come off as rude and unapproachable.


Even though this article makes it seem simple to navigate intricacies of office politics, it has been vastly oversimplified. If you’re struggling to stay above the unproductive fray of un-useful politics and personal babble between your colleagues and/or superiors consider finding a more conducive work place. If these tips aren’t helpful, perform a cost-benefit analysis on your work life to get perspective on your next steps. They are plenty of workplaces that match your personality and work ethic, so don’t ‘stick’ it out when you’re unhappy. Remember to approach your HR department when you’re uncomfortable or feel targeted by politics – see how they can help.

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