office politics
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How to play the game of office politics and win

4 Sep 2017

Anyone who works in an office will more than likely know all about office politics. But how do you avoid it affecting your work?

No matter the size of your workspace, office politics is almost inevitable. Even some of the best company cultures will have small pockets of politics at play.

Office politics can be toxic in its extreme form, but there are plenty of ways to deal with it and manage it, if you know how to play the game.

Whether you’re coming into a new office, a new form of politics has just started in your job, or you just haven’t been able to get a handle on the internal hierarchy in your office, these tips will help you.

Become familiar with your office politics

The first thing you have to do is evaluate the playing field. Take a look at who has power, who has the most opinions, who gets on with who etc.

Be aware that the natural hierarchy of who’s in charge is not the only thing that matters.

Once you’re familiar with the different dynamics within the organisation, you can take the necessary steps to avoid toxic office politics and use positive politics to play to your strengths.

Build relationships with everyone

Playing the game of office politics is not about one-upmanship or being the one with all the power – quite the opposite, in fact.

The best way to survive office politics and avoid its negative effects is to learn how to get along with everyone.

It may sound corny, but it’s the best way to get around the politics in the office unscathed. Knowing how the team dynamics work will help you build relationships with each of your colleagues without resorting to gossiping or feeding their own negative thoughts.

Avoid negativity

Speaking of negative thoughts, it’s best to avoid office gossip at all costs. If you buy into the negative energy within the office, you will become nothing more than a powerless pawn in the office’s political system.

Avoiding the negativity and refusing to get sucked in will help you in your quest to get along with everyone.

And remember: where there is negative office politics, there could be someone waiting to tear you down. Negative energy rarely festers with good-natured colleagues.

Document everything

If you are unfortunate enough to come across negative, toxic politics within the office, you might get stung by someone, despite your best efforts.

In this case, it’s important to document everything. Whether it’s someone trying to take credit for your work or a colleague trying to pin a mistake on you, it’s important that you have something with which to defend yourself.

Stand your ground

Finally, when on the receiving end of nasty office politics, it’s important to not come down to their level. Instead, stand strong, with your own character intact, and be sure to have a calm, positive response.

Even the best workers can be hit with negative office politics at some point in their career. However, it’s important not to invest yourself in clique-like behaviour that might affect your character or your relationship with other colleagues.

Above all else, make your goal about your job and establishing positive, professional relationships with your colleagues. Sometimes, that means playing the game.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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