Being successful at work requires more than just being good at your job. To really grow at your company, you need to understand your corporate culture and build a business strategy. You need to know how to navigate workplace politics.
Often, people associate politics with false pleasantries and manipulation, but that’s not what we’re going to advise here.
Instead, be genuine and perceptive are the most important traits to possess when trying to excel in company politics.
If you’re feeling lost at work relationships and you’re not sure how to traverse the stormy waters of office politics, then let our tips be the wind in your sails.
Listen. Focus on what people are saying, of course, but also pay attention to who they’re saying it to, their tone of voice, and retain the information. Listening is paramount in understanding office politics, and forgetting a piece of information that someone has told you could be an embarrassing fumble.
This doesn’t mean sucking up to the ‘right people.’ It means observing how everyone interacts with one another. When you first start a job, it’s important to find out how you fit in to the relationships that are already established. Ideally, you’ll be polite and genuine, but assertive and confident, with everyone.
Try to stay out of office griping. If your coworkers are talking poorly about others or simply complaining about the company, then try to remove yourself from the conversation. A simple, “I have a lot to catch up on—excuse me,” would suffice.
Don’t Spread Rumors
Don’t participate in office gossip, it’s distracting and just plain mean. You never know who might be listening or how someone will interpret your words. Gossip reflects poorly on your character. Plus, speaking negatively about someone will only make you feel worse. So try to stay positive and avoid rumors.
Never Make It Personal
When voicing a disagreement, never make it a personal criticism. Always make your argument about company efficiency and creativity. Never say that someone isn’t adequate for the job, or that their idea isn’t great. Instead, present your alternative idea by first pointing out the positives to theirs. Then elaborate on how your idea would fill some of the gaps to further your collective goals.
Don’t be phony. People can tell when you’re faking it. It’s best to be yourself. Of course you need to be professional, but that shouldn’t shut down your personality. You should build trust by being authentic, while still remaining tactful.
Determine the Best Way to Communicate
Different people have preferred lines of communication. Some people like phone calls, other emails, some like in-person chats. Try to make a note of who likes what so you can communicate with them in a way that makes them feel most comfortable.
Don’t be afraid to ask how something is done at the company, but ask your manager directly and privately. Avoid asking in a group email or meeting. It’s best to be one-on-one with your manager when you want to clarify any sensitive issues.
Think Before You Act
This is good advice for any aspect of life, but especially when you’re trying to navigate tricky company politics. Always be a professional when you’re at work. This means don’t get too comfortable. Always be conscious of your words and actions and how they reflect back on you.
Navigating company politics can be intimidating and confusing. However they shouldn’t be avoided all together. When you make yourself an island you’re doing yourself a disservice.
With authenticity, tact, and confidence you can successfully sail through office politics and create lasting relationships, learn valuable lessons, and scale the corporate ladder.
What’s your experience with office politics? Do you have any other tips to share? Has navigating office politics helped you achieve your career goals? Comment below with advice and share your story to UltiCareer and help students and other searching for a career get to know what a day in the life of your type of job is really like.
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