Eight powerful ways to stay above the office politics
The people of any organization are supposed to be productive all the time. However, sometimes, things like office politics consume a lot of people’s time. The question is, can we avoid it? What can one do to rise above office politics? How can one maintain one’s productivity and focus despite office politics? These are the questions that every senior leader or executive in an organization has to deal with.
One of my clients, a senior leader working in an IT company, told me that he has given up any hope of getting any promotion in this organization due to office politics.
When I probed further, he told me his line manager is biased with him as his peers keep feeding negative things about him. Also, he is not expecting any good rating or bonus this year. His manager gives all significant projects to that particular peer. He gets the least visible projects requiring more time and fewer returns.
Does it sound familiar? In case you too are experiencing the same, here are eight ways to address this in a way that helps you best navigate through such situations.
1. The first step is Acceptance: Accept that the nature of the human mind is to dominate. That’s the birthplace of office politics. We cannot address a situation if we are in denial about the situation. So accepting that office politics exists in your organization will also help you prepare to deal with it. Not only that, but you will also be able to analyze the situation objectively and become aware of the motives and intent of various people in the organization. It will help you remain alert, and you will not unnecessarily share your heartfelt secrets with others who may then pass it on to others in a twisted way.
After you accept that office politics is a reality in your organization, too, you have a choice to react or respond to it. If one responds objectively to it, one can stay more focused on one’s work and be more productive, which is one way of staying above office politics.
2. Catch yourself Judging: If you can catch yourself judging. It’s the beginning of the end of judgment. Becoming aware of our judging state reduces its intensity. Further, if you name the associated negative emotion, it begins to lose its power. (Name it to tame it). Judging those indulging in office politics may alienate you even further and make you a part of office politics whether you want it or don’t want it.
However, if you move beyond judgment, you will automatically stay above it. You won’t be taking sides, and it will help you stay focused on achieving your business objectives. Judgment sucks you into politics, whereas catching it to stay away from being judgmental makes you remain nonjudgmental.
3. Victim Mindset: Stop seeing yourself as a victim. The more you see yourself as a victim, the deeper you get into the office politics mess. See this situation as an opportunity to build your ability to navigate challenging situations. Also, stop discussing this with peers as our victim mindsets get hardwired the more we discuss. Rather than feeling like a victim, you may focus on what you can do to make the situation better or create a win-win for all. When you do something that can bring about a positive outcome, you don’t feel helpless or feel like a victim.
4. Choose your Focus: Don’t close doors for a possible patch-up with the peer/manager. As the internal judgment stops, you will begin to see other good qualities in people. Whatever we focus on expands. If we focus on the positive attributes, we see more of them. We end up attracting more positivity from others. The opposite is true as well.
In any organization, people are not out and out negative only. There are shades of grey, and the same people, when dealt with differently, may act differently. So dropping judgment and seeing people as a mix of different personalities will help one be less judgmental. One will be able to forge good relationships even with one’s detractors.
5. Expand your Network: Invest in building relationships with other important people in the organization. Networking is an art that has long-term dividends. One can always be a part of the organization’s informal groups or social groups. It helps if one is cordial with everyone with a few close relationships.
Networking can never harm you and always help you.
6. Develop objectivity: Having objectivity is a quality that always helps one in any situation. It allows one to refrain from taking sides. Even if the politics go against oneself, one can remain objective, preventing one from reacting too harshly to the situation or taking things too personally. When one takes it objectively rather than taking office politics personally, one will respond differently, and it will help one stay above it.
7. Having strong interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills or people’s skills matter greatly in any organization to build a good network and succeed. If we are watchful of our emotions, what trigger’s us, and overcome our emotional reactions, we can have good relationships with others. Emotional intelligence helps us understand others, learn about their nature and personality, and act accordingly.
8. Learn the art of deeper listening: Those who listen to others become popular in the organization. It is because people like those people who listen to them. Listening to others gives us an insight into others’ perspectives and helps us forge closer relationships. If we can learn the art of deeper listening, it can help us stay above office politics. Listen for what is the real message in a conversation. When we can understand the actual message, we can respond much better by developing more profound empathy towards others. Therefore, cultivating the art of more profound listening can always help us stay above office politics and help one succeed despite the chaos of office politics.
With the above eight strategies, you can handle office politics instead of getting sucked in it and achieve the desired results.