A How-To Guide To Deal With Unsavoury Office Politics7 min read

Most of us working professionals have experienced or seen in our offices. We all have that one colleague or boss who has made it really tough for us to survive in our workplaces. And the most frustrating fact about it is that you can’t escape it — it’s everywhere!

Yes, I am talking about Office Politics!

You would agree that every workplace has its own type of office politics. And sometimes they are really difficult for employees to handle.

What is Office Politics?

Let me give you a definition from Wikipedia — it is basically a process that involves power, authority, and social networking and is used by organizations and individuals to achieve changes that benefit the organization or individuals within it.

It has different forms and mostly has an adverse effect on employees as well on the company.

If you go through the definition, you might not be able to feel the seriousness of this topic — this might feel like a usual hurdle in our daily lives. But if you dig deep and see clearly, it is one of the deleterious things that affects us — both mentally and physically.

But why office politics is becoming so common? According to a report by Bridge by Instructure, a talent management software suite for businesses, surveyed more than 1000 office employees:

  • 78% of respondents believe working more hours is at least moderately important in getting promoted
  • 53% of employees believe engaging in workplace politics is an important factor in receiving a promotion
  • 43% said that acting interested in their “boss’s dumb story” is at least moderately important

While these are just stats showing what triggers politics in workplaces, there are instances when employees have gone into depression, quit their jobs and never joined any other place because of the fear that they would experience the same.

Despite being aware of dirty politics in workplaces, we are not able to stop it completely. However, there are ways we can cope with it and in this article, we are going to talk about just that.

What are the Types Of Office Politicians?

Before jumping right into ‘how to win against office politics’, let us first understand some different types of politicians in workplaces.

1. The One With Ego

This person is the one who reckons that s/he is always right. These folks have the habit of not letting others have their say.  They talk a lot about motivation and teamwork, but when it actually comes to walking the talk, they take a completely different turn — even if it is wrong. Also, these folks tend to be nice to those who always agree to them and flatter their ego.

2. The Bully

These are one of the toxic ones in a workplace. These folks are always on the go to use their authority and power to get their work done by others. They even tend to play the power game to get their personal works done.

The bully in a workplace is considered to be one of the dirty politicians as s/he always put others down.

3. The Climbers

Being someone who is focused on achieving his/her goal is a good thing. However, this shouldn’t be done by taking the wrong path.

Climbers are the ones who climb the ladder to achieve a higher position even by backstabbing colleagues and flattering the senior and important folks of the organization. The only thing that matters to them is that higher position and the powers that come with it.

4. The Gossiper

Gossipers are everywhere — from your group of friends to your office. They always into ‘spread the word’.

Gossipers can be both — someone who praises others and someone who talks negatively about others.  They basically can’t keep anything in their stomach, they gladly talk it out.

Heads up: they can be found near the water cooler, in the washroom, in the pantry.

5. The Bus Drivers

These are the ones who are really good at using someone else’s credibility to take their career ahead. They basically stand behind your back and wait for the right moment to shove you under the bus and go ahead.

Always keep an eye on these ill-famous politicians in your workplace. Identifying them at the workplace will make it easier for you to handle them.

Here are Some Tips to Manage office politics

1. Be True To Your Work

Work is worship! One must respect his/her work — it’s the source of your bread and butter. You don’t have to stay back and work extra hours, all you have to do is make sure you are always on time to work, you dedicate yourself to your work for those 8-9 hours, and leave when your shift is done.

Once you are out of your workplace, it’s your personal life, do whatever makes you happy and don’t think about your work.

This is no philosophy, these are basic etiquettes one must-have. If you are not dedicated to your work, you cannot expect others in the office to be nice to you the way you want.

You all must have noticed, people who preach less and work more are always successful and are less into controversies.

This is a key mantra! Use it!

2. Be Friendly With Everyone At All Levels

In one of my recent article, I talked about being a likeable person and that would help you here as well, you can pick up a few tips from here.

Always carry a genuine smile, always greet people, be friendly, be the one who helps others and support others.

By being likeable, you get a lot of advantages — when you are good to others (whether to your colleagues or boss or even the office boys), you tend to form a genuine support system.

And people with that kind of support don’t tend to fall victim to office politics.

3. Make It Clear — You Are Not Open To Gossip

We have already mentioned the gossiper and this is how you can deal with them. Well, when it’s about how to deal with it, its comparatively easy.

If you ever happen to bump into one, and s/he starts some gossip, communicate strictly on a need-to-know basis that you don’t want to talk about others at all. If there’s something else s/he wants to talk about then continue or else leave it there itself.

4. Communication Is The Key

Every time you find yourself in a political cold war, be open to having a conversation. Talk to the person directly and put your point.

If you are a manager or a boss or someone who leads a team and has been seeing unsavoury politics, make sure you get the parties together and talk about it.

Being quiet about something wrong is wrong!

5. Do Not Tolerate

Politics in workplaces don’t do any good to anyone and being silent about it and tolerating it is no good either.

There are people who fear that if they raise their voices against the wrongdoers of the office, they will be kicked out of the office.

But I want all of them to know one thing that a 9-5 job cannot be bigger or important than your self-respect.

If you feel there’s something wrong happening to you, talk to the higher folks of the organization directly, and if they also don’t take any action, you don’t have to stay in that place anymore.

Nothing can be more important than your mental peace.

Write genuine reviews about the workplace on online forums, on social media. It is important for others to know how the culture is inside the company and how they treat their employees.

Bottom Line

Office politics over the years have become a serious issue in the corporate world, people (irrespective of their gender) are getting into really horrible mental states, and some are even on the verge of mental breakdown.

Office Politics is dangerous! It’s high time that we raise our voices against it.

If you have any advice on how to deal with office politics, do let us know in the comments.