How to Deal with Office Drama and Politics
vemuda.com - If you've ever worked a 9 to 5 before or been in some form of employment, you must have seen office drama or politics play out first-hand. Jostling for position, playing to the gallery, favouritism, gossip, slander, sabotage, undermining reputations, etc., are some of the ways office drama and politics manifest.
In workplaces, people will always resort to other means to get ahead rather than do the actual work required of them.
|Source: unsplash.com by Ben White
Office politics may seem a natural part of every organization. But the problem is that it often gets out of hand and can lead you into a slippery downward slope of anxiety, fear, and despair.
For the company, it means rewarding staff based on other subjective criteria other than merit, which could stunt its growth in the long term. However, being an employee doesn't mean you must be in the thick of all the drama and politics going on in your office.
You could save yourself undue stress, maintain productivity, and do the work that matters all without being drawn into the brawl. If you have ever been in an office drama or brawl situation, comment below how you dealt with it. I’m sure you guys would to hear each other’s experiences, share them below.
So in today’s post, I’m going to share with you how you can take charge of your career and life by learning how to deal with office drama and politics with the these tips:
1. Choose your circle wisely
You spend most of your time at your workplace. Therefore, you must have some form of social interaction with your colleagues if you are to enjoy your work.
But it’s also essential to be prudent with choosing the right office buddies. Make friends with people who you rapport with, who share your values, and who you can relate with on common grounds.
Your friends at the office should be able to support you and share in your trials and triumphs. You should be able to build and encourage each other. Avoid those who bring bad energy to the office.
Making friends and hanging out with people who gossip and complain all the time will rub off negatively on you. They only speak ill of others behind their back and will want you to tag along.
Incidentally, they are usually the type to bring less than stellar performance to their work. They may also pass on on their negativity and laziness to you.
The people you hang out with at work will also influence how your supervisors see you. If you mix with the wrong crowd, you have started to write your appraisal already – and it won't look right.
2. Avoid office gossip/venting
It's natural – even therapeutic, for you to vent your frustrations about work. But, whatever you do, wait till you are safely home before you let off steam.
When you badmouth your co-worker who annoys you to another colleague, it's just a matter of time before the word gets around and creates unnecessary hostility and drama for yourself.
This is why you shouldn’t hang out with people who instigate such discussions. When you avoid being drawn into conversations where you are expected to bitch about a boss or co-worker, you come off as someone who can be trusted.
Those who expect you to gossip about others behind them, know you won't do the same to them when they aren't around. Of course, situations arise where you feel you have been badly treated or wronged in some way.
Rather than go around the office whining and complaining like a cranky granny, you must tackle the issue head-on by bringing it up with the offending party. State your complaint matter of factly without resentment or bitterness.
3. Avoid speculation
Always verify any information before you go running with it. Speculations are rife in any work environment. But acting on the wrong information could have disastrous consequences. So you heard that your name didn't make it to the promotion list.
Before you go on the warpath and set fire to the building, ask yourself,' how do I know this to be true? Most time, your source of information is based on a remark by a colleague or just an assumption.
Always get confirmation from the right source to avoid acting on misinformation. It always pays to have an accurate understanding of a situation.
4. Find an escape route
Even when you try to stay away from drama, your co-workers can bring it to you. Brandon from marketing might come to you complain about what an asshole his boss has been, or try to keep you up to date on your bosses' latest indiscretions.
Of course, he expects to get a response from you. And joining in the conversation is a sure way of getting an unpaid role in a drama that doesn't concern you.
You must avoid being roped in. Develop a strategy to slip out of the drama trap. Maybe a handy phrase to firmly pull out of a conversation that is anything but productive.
You can simply respond with, "I don't know" when a co-worker asks you whether you think the new boss is a pain in the ass. Similar go-to phrases include, "Sorry, I can't help you with that," "I don’t have time to chat right now" or "I got tight deadlines and should go back to work." Be firm yet polite.
5. Don't take sides
Despite your best efforts, you could be caught up in the middle of a full-blown office gossip. But you don't have to lose guard. When the conversation turns to who did what to who in the office, don’t take sides.
It easy to be lured into a comfortable sense of confidentiality, especially when in a social setting, but you can never tell who's taking notes for future snitching purposes.
If the instigators pose a direct question at you, come up with a vague diplomatic response. Or even better steer the conversation to safer territory.
6. Be slow to react
So you spent the whole weekend on a report only to get a scathing biting criticism from your supervisor for your labour.
You feel like strangling someone - nothing to get the blood boiling than an email shredding your efforts. It's unfair. In your anger, don’t start typing out a heated response (filled with typos, of course).
Step back, breathe deeply, and cool off. And when your anger has abated a bit, go back to the mail and reply like the cool professional that you are.
When you give yourself time to calm down, you'll be able to think things through and probably consider the intention behind the attack and come up with a well-thought-out and rational response.
When you compose a scorching reply in the heat of the moment, complete with accusations, defences, and finger-pointing, you'll only provoke a further unpleasant reaction from the other end.
In no time, the matter will have escalated needlessly with several others joining in the fray, taking sides, and digging in their heels.
7. Build your network
Networking is a great way to advance your career by building mutually beneficial relationships and projecting yourself as a person of value.
It's about building solid connections with like-minded people, sharing ideas and resources, and helping one another. Building a network means giving value to others and not just getting close to people because you see them as a means to self-advancement.
Connect with people outside your immediate circle in the office. Create relationships in other departments and across the company hierarchy; your subordinates, peers, and supervisors.
You'll never know who could come to your assistance in times of need. Knowing people within and around you will also make it easier for you to change departments, move up, and generally navigate your way in your industry.
However, avoid aligning with a particular clique. You could be unknowingly sucked into the drama and politics you've been trying to avoid if you're seen as being quote on quote "partisan."
You may be passed over for promotion or suffer from some other injustice, not because of something you did, but simply because a boss sees you as belonging to the wrong group.
8. Treat everyone equally
As you aspire to grow in your workplace, you may tend to gravitate towards a specific group or clique who are seen as the quote on quote "movers and shakers" of the organization.
While there's nothing wrong with associating with high-flying and successful colleagues, be careful you don't segregate. While you work to be accepted in a group, ensure you treat everyone -janitors, cleaners, mates, and bosses with the same level of respect and regard.
This is key to establishing an excellent reputation in your workplace. You'll be seen by all and sundry as being just and fair.
Colleagues and bosses will approach you as someone who is dependable and trustworthy –highly unlikely to sell them out to their "enemies." You'll also work drama free and with peace of mind.
9. Maintain your privacy
Social interactions are human nature and help us live happier and healthier. It's great to make friends at work who you hang out with: in and out of the office and just having a good time, with great company.
However, while having a great time socializing, be careful the liquor doesn't loosen your tongue. It's never wise to open up to colleagues about your dirty past.
While recounting tales of your wild orgies in college makes for a good story, be careful you don't reveal too many details about your personal life. This could be used against you when you least expect. Know where to draw the line.
Extend these same privacy settings in your social life to your social media accounts. I never add any of my work colleagues as Facebook friends for obvious reasons.
Facebook and similar social media have an overtly social feel to it that makes you freely voice your social, political, and religious leanings. Things you may not likely disclose in the office.
A rant against the pervasive influence of the liberals on twitter might get you 2k likes and 200 re-tweets. But, it could make your boss less than liberal with his recommendations at work.
10. Stick to your goals
Where two or more people are gathered together, like in the workplace, drama and politics are inevitable. And sometimes, even when you apply the tips above to stay above the noise, all the gossip, backbiting and infighting could get to you.
Your job is to not let all that negative energy distract you from your focus. What you must do in such a moment is to calmly remind yourself why you are there in the first place.
You signed up to provide for your family and loved ones, explore your passion, and give meaning to your life. Any other thing is secondary.
So in conclusion, contrary to what many believe, career fulfilment and advancement don't depend on being manipulative, subservient, condescending, or other mental games.
You can safely deal with office drama and politics, focus on your work, and still advance. Plus, you'll be more peaceful, calmer and have a better quality of life. Well, that’s it for today’s post. With that said, thanks again, and I’ll see you in the next one.