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7 Ways to Use Office Politics Positively. Getting What You Want Without "Playing Dirty"

Analyze the Organization Chart

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?"

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7 Ways to Use Office Politics Positively. Getting What You Want Without "Playing Dirty"

7 Ways to Use Office Politics Positively. Getting What You Want Without "Playing Dirty"

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_85.htm#

mindtools.com

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Key Ideas

Using Office politics to your advantage

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.

Analyze the Organization Chart

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?"

Understand the Informal Network

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.

Build Connections

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.

Interpersonal skills

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.

Make the most of your Network

Through your relationships, you can build your personal brand and raise your team's profile.

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.

Keep an eye on the "bad" politics

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.

Avoid fueling negative behaviors

  • Avoid passing on rumors without considering their credibility;
  • Assume that whatever you say will be repeated, so choose carefully what "secrets" you reveal.
  • Remain professional at all times, and don't take sides.
  • If you're voicing concerns or criticism of your own, be confident and assertive but not aggressive. 

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Every individual and leader has their comfort zone--behaviors, values, attitudes, fears, and drives that result in productive relationships. 

Actions outside these comfort zones will likely lead to feuds, hidden decisions, excessive arguing, counter-productive lobbying, and back-biting.

Align with decision-makers

Before coming and launching a fully-fledged proposal at a committee or in a memorandum, it's smart to test opinion and find out how key people will react.

This enables you to anticipate counter-arguments and update your proposal to answer objections and to accommodate political realities.

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Avoiding office politics
“Avoiding (office) politics altogether can be deadly for your career. Every workplace has an intricate system of power, and you can—and should—work it ethically to your best advantage.” --...
Social Astuteness

Aim to become something of a “corporate anthropologist,” observing the relationships between co-workers and superiors and paying attention to informal social networks.

By observing the communication and relationships that surround you at work, you might discover that instead of hiding when the team gets competitive, you would do better to hang in there, go toe-to-toe with them, and ultimately earn their respect.

Interpersonal Influence

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. 

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Workplace Drama

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 fa...

Count Your Elephants

Make a list of all of the awkward, uncomfortable realities that haven't been discussed out in the open. 

Set aside time to consciously think through, what's actually bothering you right now and write down these elephants to enable you to resolve these issues.

Identify Your Role In The Problem

Be honest with yourself: Are you contributing to the situation negatively or doing anything to help?

Write down the ways in which you've contributed, and identify how you can personally take responsibility. 

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