1. Be helpful
Offer a helping hand when you know that someone is struggling to complete a task or needs help in areas that you excel at. Take the initiative and offer your assistance.
This is an excellent way to break the ice with someone whom you don’t have a rapport with or you want to develop a working relationship with. He will be grateful for your help and you would have earned a place in his good books.
2. Stay in the loop
Be aware of what’s on the grapevine, but don’t add to the gossip. You may hear some talk about a manager’s preferences, or how a co-worker spends her personal time. The first bit of information may be useful to know, especially if you are working with that manager. The latter is none of your business.
Learn to filter out the irrelevant information and gain from the relevant.
3. Be ready to stand up for yourself
At times, you will face with uncomfortable situations, often caused by unfair or unreasonable people. These could be colleagues, subordinates or bosses.
For example, when it is time for the annual promotions and raises, friends can sometimes become competitors, and teammates can play games of one-upmanship. If a colleague makes nasty remarks about you, with no regard for the truth, the only way to retaliate is to show him that you are not a pushover. Confront him without losing your cool and negotiate an apology, making sure that the people who matter — colleagues and supervisors — are in the loop as well.
4. Get “buy in”
Before launching a political “attack”, it is important to make sure you have the moral high ground. Then, line up your allies. Ensure that you are in their good books and they support your initiatives wholeheartedly.
An example of this is when you try to stop a bullying manager from constantly abusing his power. If you and your colleagues are his subordinates, you will need the help of top management — via your senior-ranking allies — to achieve your objective.
5. Never look flawless
Trying to be perfect and setting yourself apart from others is dangerous — because envy creates silent enemies. Show your humanity. In the office, partake in harmless “vices” like an occasional drink or two with colleagues or have a good sense of humour. People like those who appear to like them back.
6. Have the common touch
If you flaunt your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you seek attention and you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is better to blend in and appear to have the common touch.
Share unique ideas only with tolerant friends who appreciate them. At such times, you may talk about great change for the better. But when it comes to implementation, give people time. Great thoughts, unique ideas and change are often resisted and that can prevent success even before it starts.
7. Master the art of timing
Strive to be calm and patient. Observe the body language of those around you and practise waiting for the right moment to say or ask anything. Learn to hold back until the time is ripe. And when it is, take action with complete confidence. A good example of this is when you are looking for that all-important promotion or well-deserved raise.
The best response to office politics is to be really good at what you do without losing the common touch. Carry yourself well, behave with consideration and act with confidence, and you are likely to inspire respect, instead of rivalry, in others.