“Well at least I don’t have to deal with any more of that water-cooler gossip” says the newly self employed consultant, or person who has switched to working from home. The office has it’s own complex web of favorites, politics, alpha employees, time wasters and others who just plain bother you. Being out of the office – or only a transient part of it – can feel like liberation.
Until it rears it’s ugly head in unlikely places.
Consultants and contract workers will still need to keep up on their crisis skills, their politic skills. Here are some tips on staying savvy to the world of office politics. Keep your head above the water.
Excepting very rare cases, to survive in the dangerous world of office politics, it is best to be known as the person who never jumps to conclusions. People who join sides in arguments are swinging wildly, looking to make a point when they should be creating or working.
Even if you have an opinion in the matter it is better to keep it to yourself and develop it fully without joining a side. Partisan alignments tend to create a dogma for your opinions without leaving room for personal interpretation. It’s better to develop your own insights which will keep you removed from the battleground. That way, if you do find it necessary to navigate the perilous battleground, you can do so safely.
Be Aware of Your Agency
We can only do so much. Sometimes we forget this. Here are a few ways to ensure you aren’t worrying about things you cannot change.
Have a Clear Goal:
You’ll find yourself floundering and wasting time if you aren’t sure what you are trying to achieve. If a conflict arises, be sure to remember your goal.
All conflicts are a result of mixed interests. Your interests in some way may impede the interests of another. Jeers and rumors and political undermining therefore is often a result of personal interest, not personal problems. Keep your eye on the goal and ignore the smaller problems around you.
Always take the higher ground. Remember, no office situation will ever really be out of your hands. You always have a choice of how you will respond. You can react poorly or you can keep your head above the water and make a clear decision. You have the power to control your own actions if nothing else. Utilize that power.
You can only do so much. Make sure you don’t allow the stress from things you cannot do anything about affect your ability to effectively work with what you can.
Seek Wise Solutions
Wisdom in conflict resolution is a skill that men and women spend their entire lives attempting to obtain. We will never be perfect in resolving conflicts but we should always pursue it as an ideal.
Firstly, always seek to find a win-win. All parties can benefit from a conflict and, often, all desires can be in some way met. Don’t be foolish and refuse to compromise when you’re asking someone else to. Find a way to look at the problem from a new angle.
Perhaps call in a third party to mediate, someone who might show you how to change your line of thinking and guide the resolution. This does require that you swallow your pride and admit there is a chance you might need to back down a bit. However, if you’ve followed our advice up until now, you’ll find that it wont be an issue at all.
In the computer age, text based communication has become a huge difficulty. Tones and expressions can be read thousands of different ways, none of which are usually intended. Be sure to avoid discussing sensitive matters over email. When you must, try to use language that is not ornate, with specific and sparse qualifiers. Overly elaborate language or noticeable terseness will cause eyebrows to raise.
Dealing with office politics is never fun. Even trying to stay aloof of them can feel like a chore. Try to keep these above ideas in your head to weather the storm.