Opposing Office Politics

Hi, Anita:

Two groups of my co-workers have been at odds with each other for the past month. There was a disagreement over the way a project was handled and now it feels like the office is a war zone. I have tried my hardest to mind my own business but I can feel everyone involved trying to pull me in their direction. How do I stay out of the game of office politics?

Dear, Caught in the Middle:

Office politics is present in almost every work environment. Whether you are a forklift driver in a warehouse or an assistant in the executive suite, these games have been known to crash even the best office parties.

Office_GossipI have a few tips for you that will help you steer clear of political mumbo jumbo and center your focus on what matters most: your job!

  1. Do not engage in gossip. Avoid involving yourself in rumors and off-work topic discussions. Seriously, do not touch it with a 10-foot pole. All it will do is get you caught up in the games even more. You will be no better than your coworkers who are in the midst of this spat.
  2. Be a great listener. Not all gossip can be avoided, especially when it is shoved right into your lap. To not be rude or disinterested, practice your listening skills. The other person may need to vent about their opponent, but that doesn’t mean you have to give your opinion. Be a sounding board for their feelings and then politely carry on with your day.
  3. Keep your personal life private. Keep your personal information just how it should be: personal. To avoid conflict, do not discuss politics or religion while you are in the office. Your opinions and preferences that do not relate to work are on a need-to-know basis. As for your coworkers, they fall under the “do not need to know” category.
  4. Be positive and complimentary. Like your mother and I will always tell you, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.” The same rings true in the workplace. You don’t want to start building a reputation of being a Debbie Downer.
  5.  Keep your interactions on an even keel. Be aware of how your interactions with your coworkers, superiors and subordinates are being perceived by others. Unequal treatment will be recognized immediately and could form a breeding ground for even more office politics.
  6.  Stay focused. Nothing can be better for you and your career than staying focused on doing your job well. If you keep your goals and tasks top of mind, you will not only be a more productive employee, but you will set a higher standard for your peers. The troublemakers will begin to see that you do not have time to engage in their quarrels or drama.

Readers, what tactics do you employ to avoid office politics?

Check out this video to see how to best avoid bad office politics:

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. faisalctg
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 08:23:37

    Reblogged this on faisal's words.

    Reply

  2. Gary Alan
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 10:43:41

    Thank you for your response. Been there did that! Talked with the Manager and District Manager but didn’t feel empathy, then was terminated and certain HR was involved. Talked to attorney and the firm wasn’t interested in ‘handling’ the situation. I recently learned the trauma can come back as an adult. Maybe the whole ‘bullying’ thing, today, is just a political smoke screen. For my grandchildren, I hope not.

    Reply

  3. Gary Alan
    Oct 22, 2013 @ 09:37:48

    Recently I was working in a hostile work environment and shared my childhood experience re: being bullied in hope it would curtail the hostile behavior. It didn’t.

    In general, was it the wrong tactic; should I have attempted something else?

    Reply

    • anitaclew
      Oct 22, 2013 @ 10:15:22

      Gary, I commend you for trying to diffuse the situation yourself. Apparently, your co-workers need a dose of empathy! If your workplace is hostile because of harassment based on a protected class (race, religion, sexual orientation, just to name a few), then there are legal repercussions to consider. Even it the behavior is just bad office etiquette, a visit to your Human Resources department is in order.

      Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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