Particularly in today’s current financial climate, office workers are under increasing amounts of pressure to perform, meeting higher standards without the likelihood of receiving an increase in revenue. As a result, it is hardly surprising that along with increased stress levels comes a greater amount of workplace politics.
How to Handle Office Politics
It is important to be aware of how to effectively cope with office politics because the likelihood is that in the current environment, moving employment is simply not an option. Also, just one person who refuses to throw away his or her values and will not bad-mouth colleagues, managers or spread malicious gossip can make a difference.
As with most areas in life which may involve conflict, it is sensible to pick one’s battles wisely. For example, there are always going to be people who refuse to listen or respect others, so often it is better to remain silent.
Communication and Office Politics
Poor communication skills are commonplace within many political hot potatoes, particularly within workplaces where there are cliques with people either on the inside or made to feel alienated. One of the best ways to handle conflict is to communicate one’s point across clearly, calmly and to then point without leaving any room for doubt, this way there will be none of the usual ‘X said this’ or ‘Y said that.’
Hand in hand with communication skills is the ability to listen to what colleagues are saying and be aware of non-verbal cues, body language and tone.
Negotiation and Disarming Skills
It is also useful to use negotiation and disarming tactics to help defuse heavy arguments or prevent minor disagreements from escalating into something ugly. The art of both successful negotiation and disarming is in helping the other person to believe that they are being respected, listened to and being able to show that one agrees with certain parts (where possible) of what is being said without agreeing to all the individual’s demands.
Rising Above Workplace Conflict and Politics
It is also important to hold firm to one’s values and refuse to be caught up in malicious gossip or slandering other colleagues. Where possible try to treat others the way that one wishes to be treated regardless of age or ability. Building a network of support within the workplace is a helpful way of being able to have a positive influence within the workplace whilst not getting too stuck in certain cliques.
Office politics and workplace conflict will always be a factor when people are in a confined space for around 40 hours a week with a whole range of different beliefs, characteristics and personality traits. The key is to listen well, communicate clearly, hold on to one’s values and know which battles are worth fighting.