How Do I Handle Office Politics?

No matter where you work or what you do, you will always encounter politics in the workplace. Rather than thinking of it as “politics”, think of it as “organizational savvy”. Part of work politics consists of manipulations by individuals to get others to behave as the manipulator desires, (huh, kind of like the impact and influence you wish to have over others?)

Don’t be naïve. We all play politics. All the time. At work, at home, and elsewhere. You need to look at politics in a different way.

Accept that politics is going on all the time in every relationship. Whatever you do for or with another person involves some kind of manipulation, even if it is as simple as straightforwardly asking for what you want.

Being honest and straightforward is a political strategy. If you believe in honesty as good and right, you believe everyone should be honest. It is a political maneuver to impose your beliefs and “right” and “should” on the people around you.

Forget trying to refuse to play the game. Play the game competently. Know your values well, live by them, and refuse to let them be compromised.

Observe and learn the strategies others use in the game so you are aware of the tactics being used on you.  Remember some tactics will be pleasant and welcome, such as the kindness and caring that good and loving colleagues or bosses wish to impose on you.

Learn the formal skills and strategies of negotiation and impact and influence. To competently play the political game, you must be able to bargain with other players for what you want. Combined with an awareness of what the other players want and what their strategies are, impact and influence skills will help you have the greatest possible impact on the outcomes.

This is the way it works. Remember too, there are politics specific to each organization. The corporate culture determines much of the political game and corporate culture is generally imposed from top down.

Become a student and an observer of your leaders and the top management to understand what’s happening, and plan what you are going to do to be more strategic in your thinking, communication and approach.

Interested in becoming more politically or organizationally “savvy”? Contact Linda at 416-617-0734 or email

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