How to Win at Office Politics (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

For some, the term “office politics” is frowned upon. It is pervasive in the workplace.

Workplace politics, in its most basic form, is simply about differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are frequently manifested as office politics. Everything boils down to human communication and relationships.

There is no reason to be concerned about office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of office politics victory. Here are seven good habits to help you succeed at work:

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1. Be Conscious You Have an Option

The most common reactions to workplace politics are fight or flight. It was a natural human reaction for survival in the wild back when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but winning in office politics requires more than instinctive reactions. Instinctive fight reactions will only increase resistance to whatever you are attempting to accomplish, whereas instinctive flight reactions will only label you as a pushover who people can easily take for granted. Neither option is appealing for a healthy career progression.

Winning necessitates deliberate selection of your reactions to the situation. Recognize that, regardless of the circumstances, you have a choice in how you feel and react. So, how do you make your decision? This leads us to the next point…

2. Understand what you're attempting to accomplish

When conflicts arise, it is all too easy to become engulfed in tunnel vision and focus solely on immediate differences. That is a self-defeating strategy. By focusing on differences in people's positions or opinions, you'll almost certainly invite more opposition.

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Focusing on business objectives is one way to mitigate this without appearing to be fighting to be the victor in this conflict. Discuss the pros and cons of each option in light of what is best for the business. Everyone eventually wants the business to succeed; if the business fails, no one in the organization succeeds.

When one realizes that the chosen approach is best for the business, it is much easier to eat the humble pie and back off.

You will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done by learning to steer the discussion in this direction. Your boss will also come to value you as someone who is mature, strategic, and capable of taking on greater responsibilities.

3. Concentrate on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are frequently issues over which we have little control. It is not uncommon to come across corporate policies, client demands, or boss directives that affect your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common reactions to uncontrollable events. But, aside from providing a temporary emotional outlet, what tangible results does gossiping achieve? In most cases, none.

Rather than feeling victimized and angry about the situation, concentrate on the things you can do to influence it — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique for getting over a sense of helplessness. It alleviates the victimized feeling while also allowing others to see you as someone who understands how to work within given constraints.

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You may not be able to change or decide on the final outcome, but you can walk away knowing that you did your best within the constraints.

Workplace constraints are everywhere; with this approach, your boss will come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don't Pick a Side

It is possible to become trapped in office politics between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being tossed around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own positions, all at the expense of you completing the task. You can't get them to agree on a project decision, and neither of them wants to take responsibility for problems; they're too afraid of being stabbed in the back if anything goes wrong.

In situations like this, keep the business objectives in mind and don't pick a side – even if you prefer one over the other. Put them on a common communication platform and ensure open communication between all parties so that no one can claim, “I didn't say that.”

By refusing to take sides, you will assist in directing conflict resolution in an objective manner. You will also gain the trust of both parties. This will help to keep engagements constructive and focused on business goals.

5. Avoid Getting Personal

People will irritate you in office politics. It does happen. There will be times when you want to tell that person what's on your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

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People tend to recall instances in which they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and feel great about it for the time being, you will pay the price later when you need this person's assistance. What goes around, especially in the workplace, comes around.

To succeed at work, you'll need to cultivate a network of allies from which to draw. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is for someone to screw you over because they have ill will towards you – all because you had a brief emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to keep your cool is for your professional advancement. Organizations are increasingly using 360-degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a standout performer, your boss will face a political uphill battle if other managers or peers regard you as difficult to work with. You don't want to make it difficult for your boss to advocate for you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand First, Then Be Understood

People feel unjustified because they have been misunderstood. We are instinctively more interested in getting others to understand us than in first understanding them. Top human resource managers and business leaders have learned to control their urges.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very deceptive strategy. Once the other party believes you understand where he or she is coming from, they will be less defensive and more willing to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communication in order to reach an agreement that both parties can live with.

It is extremely difficult to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding – there is little trust and far too much second-guessing.

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7. Consider the win-win situation

As previously stated, political conflicts arise as a result of competing interests. Perhaps our education has taught us that in order to win, someone else must lose. We, on the other hand, are afraid of letting someone else win because it implies that we will lose.

That does not have to be the case in business and at work

Learn to ask yourself, “How can we both win in this situation?” This necessitates first understanding the other party's point of view and what's in it for him.

Next, figure out what's in it for you. Make an effort to find a solution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. This ensures that everyone truly commits to the agreed-upon resolution and not just pays lip service to it.

People simply do not enjoy losing. You might get away with win-lose tactics once or twice, but you'll soon find yourself without allies at work.

Thinking win-win is a long-lasting strategy that helps you build allies and win in the long run.

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