Office politics are a reality, and avoiding them altogether risks not having a say in what happens.
It also allows people with less experience, skill or knowledge than you to influence decisions that affect you and your team.
Map the political power and influence in your organization, rather than people's rank or job title.
Ask yourself questions like, "Who are the real influencers?," "Who has authority but tends not to exercise it?," "Who is respected?," "Who champions or mentors others?," and "Who is the brains behind the business?"
Examine people's interactions and relationships to understand the informal or social networks.
Watch closely (but discreetly and respectfully) to find out who gets along with who, and who finds it more difficult to interact with others.
Notice whether connections are based on friendship, respect, romance, or something else.
Look beyond your immediate team, and cross the formal hierarchy in all directions – co-workers, managers and executives.
Don't be afraid of politically powerful people. Get to know them, and build high-quality connections that avoid empty flattery.
Reflect on your emotions, what prompts them, and how you handle them.
This kind of emotional intelligence helps you to pick up on other people's emotions, too, and to understand what kind of approach they like or dislike.
When you communicate your achievements to your connections, they might open up opportunities for you, your team, and your boss.
Always keep your organization's goals in mind, and don't "badmouth" others.
Get to know the gossips and manipulators better.
Be courteous but guarded, as they may repeat what you say with a negative "spin." Try to understand their goals, so that you can avoid or counter the impact of their negative politicking.
... as often as you ask for support. If you are viewed as always demanding support, but never giving it, your effectiveness will be greatly reduced, even when you are right.
Always communicate the win-win element in every decision.
Look for people who are not necessarily in high-level roles, but who have the ability to make things happen. Who are the movers and shakers in your organization, and what can you learn from how they get things done?
For example, you might discover that before voicing an opposing opinion in a global teleconference, it pays to have influential backers present.
When workplace drama affects you, it can become an insidious cloud that permeates your day-to-day.
Be mindful and ask yourself, "What is actually going on here?" Focus on the facts and avoid what you think happened. Know that you can't control how you feel, only how you react.