How to Cope With Office Politics

In an ideal world, we'd never have to worry about fallout from a colleague's ambition, control issues, or fear. In the real one, we're forced to deal with this stuff all the time, by the very nature of collaborative work and corporate hierarchy. So how do you deal with office politics, without losing sight of your own goals or forfeiting your happiness at work?

crossing the line 

(Photo Credit: loop_oh/Flickr)

1. Focus on business objectives.

"It is easy to get caught up in 'us vs. them' and to try to just win your side," writes Joyce E. A. Russell at The Washington Post. "But often there is a larger perspective that can be taken. This means we have to be willing to step back and manage ourselves."

2. Remember that you can only control your own behavior.

You can't make your Machiavellian colleague behave better; you can only change your approach to dealing with her. Focus on adapting your own actions to the situation, rather than wishing things would change. If your co-worker shows you that he is untrustworthy, document everything in emails; if she has a habit of going off on her own mission, suggest regular check-in meetings to keep everyone on track.

3. Only present problems to others if you're prepared to accept their solution.

Before you bring in the boss -- or HR -- ask yourself: are you prepared to accept any solution they might come up with? If the answer is no, you're still better off trying to resolve things on your own.

The exception to this rule might be your immediate manager. If you have a good rapport, you can loop in your supervisor to keep him informed about how you're adapting the process to fit the participants. Just make sure you're communicating, not complaining.

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