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October 25, 2013
How to Shy Away From Office Politics
 
If you've ever worked in an office, you know that office politics are a way of life.

They exist everywhere and can be tricky to avoid, but there are things you can do to stay out of the drama and keep your work life exactly what it is — work.

What are office politics?
When most people think of office politics, they think of it as negatively impacting yourself or the company. In most cases, this is true.

Typically, office politics are when people within the company use strategies or tactics to “get ahead,” often at the expense of others.

Office politics can also be positive, though, most commonly by means of networking. Good office politics can be making yourself known throughout the company in a positive way, possibly helping you to get promoted down the road at no expense to others.

How to steer clear of negative office politics:
  • Don't gossip. Gossiping is a surefire way to be viewed negatively by your superiors. Let others do what they're going to do and do your best to stay out of it. If you find yourself in a group where bad-mouthing is going on, excuse yourself from the group politely and find other people to associate with. Your bosses and superiors will view you the same as those you're connecting yourself to — so choose wisely!
  • Stay positive. Treat others with respect — both those above you and those below you. Be the positive light in the office that others can turn to for encouragement and guidance. When others do a good job or receive a promotion, congratulate them and be happy for them.
  • Watch what you say. Making friends at the office is great — it helps your day go by faster and gives you someone to chat with on breaks and at lunch. Don't say anything negative or super personal about yourself that you wouldn't want everyone knowing. You never know if your so-called “friend” is talking about you behind your back, so be friendly, yet don't overshare information until you are absolutely certain you can trust them.
  • Talk directly to your boss. You want to get promoted or move into a different department? Instead of letting your boss find out through the grapevine, speak directly to him or her. Always keep your boss in the loop when it comes to your career goals. Coworkers and peers do not need to know what your goals are within the company — only your boss does.
  • Avoid complaining. It's normal to vent a little here and there when it comes to work (hey, we all do it), but try to avoid constantly complaining and venting. It will get back to your boss, guaranteed. If you plan on staying with the company long-term, it's always best to focus on the good. If you absolutely have to vent, find someone who does not work for the company to reach out to — such as an old friend, a spouse, or a relative.
All in all, avoiding office politics is difficult, but possible.

With the right attitude and a conscious decision to stay out of any “work drama,” you will set yourself apart from others and hopefully be the first in line to receive that raise or promotion you've been eyeing!

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Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ with her husband and two daughters. She's passionate about writing, traveling, cooking and spending time with her family. Her writing topics include food and nutrition, travel, personal finance and small business. Sites she writes for include ripoffreport.com and those discussing college degrees.
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