How to Win at Office Politics

By Mel Sim

That’s right – you can use office politics to your advantage.

If you’re like most people, you tend to avoid office politics like it’s the plague. Keep your head down and mind your own business, right?

Unfortunately, not knowing how to play the game right may cost you your career, especially if you’re the target of someone who is an ace at office politics.

After all, office politics is all about competing for status or power in a workplace, and wouldn’t this be an advantage to your career? Research by the Center for Creative Leadership seem to think so – it showed that those who are politically savvy have better career prospects, better career trajectories and are seen to be more promotable.

It’s no surprise because when you’re “politicking” in the workplace, you are essentially creating a campaign to get yourself to the top.

Here’s the thing though – office politics doesn’t have to be a negative thing. You don’t have to resort to rumours, backstabbing or creating lies to be good at it.

What you need to learn is how to thrive in your workplace’s current political environment by playing smart.

How? These 5 sure-to-win tips.

#1 Keep your eye on the prize
You want that promotion; that’s why you’re into office politics, not because you want to stir up some trouble for no good reason. Keep reminding yourself this and you’ll always maintain a cool, composed and rational approach to dealing with office politics. By focusing on your end game, you’ll learn to stay away from petty arguments and undesirable actions like backstabbing and manipulating.

#2 Don’t take sides
The smart thing to do when it comes to office politics? Don’t take any obvious side. Be in as many cliques as possible so that you’re in everyone’s good books instead of being stuck between two managers who are at odds with each other. This way, you not only get to focus on your career objectives but also won’t find yourself in a sticky predicament if the person you align yourself with leaves the company.

#3 Be real
Don’t pretend to be someone else with a certain group and another person with another group – it just shows that you’re flaky and not to be trusted. Sincerity will go a long way in office politics; nobody can fault you for being genuine. Plus, putting on an act the entire time you’re at work can be a pretty tiring thing to do.

#4 Assume everyone will know everything
When someone wants to know your personal opinion about a certain individual, be as diplomatic as possible. Don’t take it as an opportunity to speak negatively, even if that person deserves it. Why? Because chances are your word will get around. Also, know that because everyone gossips, all your actions will be known. So be careful of how you conduct yourself; don’t be fodder for gossip. Instead, just pay attention to doing your best – that fact will also make its way up to those in power.

#5 Make others look good
Give credit when it is deserved. Help your boss achieve his KPIs. Help your teammate looks important and successful in front of the boss. It’s a win-win situation. Not only will people support you because you have their best interest at heart but you’re likely to get help when you need it in the future, which is super important when you’re in the corner office.

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