- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
No matter your role in the workplace, when office politics get out of hand the damage can be irreparable. Even if you are highly productive and too busy to get involved, occasionally you can get roped into the drama. Sometimes the drama is caused by ladder climbers and other times it amounts to nothing more than high school gossip. The best policy is to avoid it at all costs. Here are a few ways to do just that.
WATCH HOW OTHER TEAM MEMBERS INTERACT
Keep your eyes open for instigators. These are the people who stir the pot, participate in gossip, and talk behind other people’s backs. They may try to approach you with the latest secrets. It’s best to redirect them and go on about your business. Just politely excuse yourself and move on.
Observing how others in the office place interact with one another will give you a good perspective. You’ll be able to use your instincts to tell which team members are trouble. You may still have to interact with these people. A great way to do that is to just provide the minimum amount of interaction. Avoid giving them personal information. Which brings me to…
MAINTAIN YOUR BOUNDARIES
We’re often told to respect one another’s boundaries. It’s important to respect your own as well. Having respect for your boundaries means knowing your limits and not crossing them. That can be hard when it’s a slow day and everyone is feeling a little loose. Just keep in mind you’re there to work.
Try not to get drawn into arguments. When there’s an argument between two or more people in the office, they might want to coerce the rest of the team to get involved. That involvement can be anything from simply listening to their complaints. Most of the time the people who want to be heard are hoping you will choose their side. It’s best to politely decline and go on about your workday.
DON’T TRY TO IMPRESS ANYONE
Be yourself. Don’t try to stand out by talking about others. You may think it’s a way up the ladder, but it’s usually a one-way ticket to getting in trouble. People who are involved in office drama are usually looking for a new accomplice. Do be the one.
Office politics isn’t fun. Ideally, you want to have a team of people who are committed to the job. You want to work in an environment that is collaborative, supportive, and productive. If there’s a lot of gossip and nonsense going on, the rule of thumb is don’t get involved.
LOOP BACK TO WORK
If you find yourself talking to someone and the conversation turns to the latest gossip, loop the conversation back to work. Be tactful, polite, and professional. It’s important to avoid situations where work conversations turn into talks about rumors or backstabbing. Maintain a professional demeanor and a sound work ethic.
NOT INVOLVED? IT CAN STILL AFFECT YOU
Office politics can still affect you even if you aren’t directly involved. Become known in your office as a person who stays on task no matter what. Stay on top of your job. By doing so you avoid the situation whereby someone may question your motives. Be accurate and complete.
Drama queens and kings like to rope people into the chaos. They will often look for ways to get others involved. If you are focused on doing the best job you can, if your work is completed on schedule, and accurately presented, it becomes extremely difficult for the king and queen to drag you into the conflict. And the boss will know who’s doing their job.
DON’T SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION
We mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Don’t tell people your personal information. There’s simply no way to guarantee it will stay personal. More importantly, if your personal information gets shared and people start spreading rumors about you, you’ll be drawn into the politics regardless of your intentions.
The result of that scenario is simple. Whether you were truly involved or not, whether you’re the innocent victim or not, the managers and bosses will attach you to the drama. You could be branded a troublemaker. The results of that are all too clear. It could affect your career.
A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS THE BEST DEFENSE
If you maintain a positive outlook and an attitude that says you’re committed to your job, there’s very little chance you’ll get pulled into the drama. That’s because your reputation will proceed you. The people you work with and the people you work for will all know you are all business.
Plus, having a positive attitude is beneficial to you. A positive attitude is good for your physical and emotional health. It’s also great for your career. Employers what people that keep a great attitude and are focused on getting the job done. And remember to avoid criticizing others. Even if you find their behavior unprofessional, when you criticize others, you’re saying more about yourself than you are about them.
That means setting a good example. How you behave and function in your workplace will be noticed by your superiors. If you deliver exemplary performance and professionalism, your supervisors will recognize that. How you behave as an employee and how well you do your job will eventually be reflected in the form of promotion, raises, or special recognition.
Don’t be afraid to set the example of high standards, professionalism, and superior performance. That’s the stuff superstar careers are made of. Keep your head high and drive on. Don’t get involved in the nonsense and drama. Your managers, supervisors, and employers notice who the troublemakers are. They also notice who isn’t causing trouble.
AVOID THE DRAMA
Office politics can seem unavoidable. Whether you’re a manager, a salesperson, or a clerk, drama and chaos can find you. Remember to keep a positive attitude and do your best job. Be professional and stay out of the gossip circles. By doing these things, you’ll be able to avoid even the worst office politics.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell