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How to deal with office politics

Since office politics is inevitable, how do you deal with it then?

In this new career series, we will tackle some of the problems that you might face as you step into your new territory: the workplace.



There are different ways to define "office politics". Ultimately, it boils down to people relations in the workplace, and comes into play when people go through different means to achieve their respective agenda in work.

Since office politics is inevitable in every workplace, how should we deal with it? While the situation may differ in different workplace environments, here are some suggestions:


1. Know your boss
There will be times when staff are placed in situations whereby they receive mixed directives or instructions from the management at different levels.

Who do you listen or report to? Recognise that while senior management's approval is important, your immediate supervisor is your most influential boss to please, because he is the one who affects your eventual appraisal most directly.


Even if your job requires you to work for bosses above your immediate supervisor, you should still update your immediate supervisor on the tasks which you have been doing for the other bosses. Regular updates or seeking approvals before doing certain tasks reflects that you respect his authority as your boss and immediate supervisor.

2. Make friends, not enemies
Be nice to the people around you, even the colleagues whom you dislike. Even if you hate your colleague and know that he has stabbed you in the back countless times, do not have it written all over your face. Making a friend is better than making an enemy.


Open confrontation will not benefit you in any way and it will serve only to ensure an awkward working relationship with the colleague which you might continue to work with, in many years to come. Hence, be wary of those colleagues whom you cannot trust, but befriend them all the same.

3. Keep track of your discussion in black-and-white
Keep all exchanges between you and your bosses, colleagues and clients, in black-and-white, in the form of emails or meeting minutes. In times of dispute, such documentation will be useful in clarification or justification of your actions.

4. Be tight-lipped
Do not disclose information, especially if it is classified as private and confidential. The information which you reveal may be used against you. Also, you do not wish to be perceived as someone who cannot keep a secret and will readily share confidential trade secrets or personal information about others.


5. Be tactful
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Walls have ears and office rumours can spread like wild fire in the workplace. Thus, do not risk getting into other people's bad books by unwittingly showing support to the "wrong" crowd through expressing sympathy towards a colleague who turns out to be "blacklisted" or criticising a management's consensual decision loudly which eventually reaches the ears of your bosses.


It pays to be careful, even towards trusted colleagues in office. Always consider win-win outcomes in negotiations and discussions in the office, because nobody wants to be on the losing end at the end of the day.

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