How to cope with office politics

happy-office-workers, work environment

Rebecca Siciliano, Managing Director of Tiger Recruitment

Of the average 112 hours we spend awake each week, 40 of those are spent at work, answering emails, completing projects and inevitably dealing with office politics.

With so many personalities working together, there is every chance you will have to navigate the different emotions, ambitions and opinions of your colleagues, all while ensuring you maintain your integrity.

While every office is different, there are a number of general habits that can put you in good stead for sidestepping the drama, ensuring ongoing professional success.

Find your tribe

When starting a new job, getting to know everyone can be a daunting process. However, with a little effort, you may soon find a like-minded soul (or two!) with similar interests, passions or personalities to your own. Once you’ve found those people, hold onto them – having connections within the workplace means a supportive network to rely on should difficulties arise. It’s even better if they are from a different department, as they can often provide a new perspective that you may not have thought of before and therefore, help to resolve any issues.

Should you be experiencing bullying or any other negative effect of office politics, having a small network in the workplace can reduce the feeling of isolation that most often comes with conflict. In turn, it’s worth making sure you are not the person causing others to experience these isolating feelings, considering how your behaviour may affect others.

Self-promote, without bragging

One common example of office politics is someone else taking the credit for your hard work. Stop this from happening by providing regular updates to your manager or team on your progress, focusing on the effort you’ve put in and identifying the strengths you’ve brought to the process. In these updates, you can also contribute to positive office morale by giving credit to those who have helped you, as well as identifying opportunities for future collaboration or areas you’d like to work on.

One trick? Use the word ‘because’ when explaining your achievements. A study conducted by Harvard University found that using ‘because’ increases the chances of people agreeing or aligning with you, as it gives them a reason to care and invest in your success.

Lead by example

It’s tempting to have a gossip over lunch, or tell your colleague a rumour you heard while making a cup of tea. However, this behaviour only serves to feed the fire of negativity, so it’s best avoided. Should your colleague trust you with confidential information, keep it to yourself – after all, discretion is a celebrated quality, not one to look down upon!

It’s also worth remembering to stay professional at all times, avoiding the temptation to take sides in any potential arguments. Should you wish to express a concern or difference of opinion, assertion is always better than aggression. Communication becomes a key consideration here – taking the time to consider the other person’s perspective, and then communicating with this in mind, can make a big difference when resolving an issue.

Finally, negate the negative by infusing some positivity into every situation. Take every opportunity to recognise the work of others, encouraging teamwork where needed. Should your co-worker be struggling, take an empathetic approach – taking the time to listen goes a long way!

About the author

Rebecca Siciliano is the Managing Director of Tiger Recruitment, a recruitment consultancy that matches exceptional support staff with top businesses and private individuals. Rebecca has over 15 years’ experience recruiting PAs and secretarial staff, and shares her thoughts around how these roles can offer meaningful career paths.

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