by Peter Luscombe

Standing back and away from office politics is common practice, however, it may not be the best way to go. Like with any work situation there are opportunities which can benefit – in most part it depends upon how you look at matters; your mind-set.

In a negative frame, office politics can be seen as:

  • Theatre – drama
  • Manipulative
  • Underhanded
  • Even ‘dirty’ – self-serving

That need not be the case. In a positive frame, seeing office politics to advantage, it can be an arena outside of the formality of meetings to:

  • Express thoughts and explore ideas
  • Formulate alliances
  • Smooth pathways between yourself and another
  • Inject humour and a sense of connection or play

Ofiice pols

Image Source: Pixabay

In a recent article in The Huffington PostHow Resisting Office Politics Can Damage Your Career – Bonnie Marcus, the author of the The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead declares:

Savvy men and women acknowledge that you can’t build a successful career in a vacuum. When women focus solely on their performance, they are neglecting the reality that politics can make or break their career. They isolate themselves and therefore lack the necessary information to navigate the workplace effectively. This lack of information about workplace dynamics sets them up to be blindsided by the politics. Politics is everywhere. And in order to be successful, you need to know both the rules and the unwritten rules and who has the power and influence.

This is so true for both women and men. To disengage can be a step which limits your own opportunities for progress. To isolate yourself may well mean that you not only compromise necessary alliances with others, colleague-contact so to speak, however, also compromise the necessary support we all need at work.

In the same article Marcus advises that a ‘political tool-kit’ is necessary:

  • The skill to promote oneself with savvy and authenticity
  • An understanding of the workplace dynamics
  • A strategic network to support your career advancement
  • A sponsor
  • An executive coach or mentor

Marcus makes the telling comment that: Politics equals relationships. Politics, despite current cynicism and wariness about politicians and operations within the workplace, need not be a down-force. If viewed with a positive mind-set, then office politics can actually up-lift yourself and others.