3 Ways To Stay Ahead Of Office Politics 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably faced some office politics with your colleagues.  

And I’m here to remind you that it is normal to butt heads with your peers in a work environment, however, how you deal with the situation and ease tensions that rise is important. Building positive relationships with your peers can help productivity at work as well as keep your job satisfaction in check. There’s nothing worse than a workplace feud in a place you spend most of your time in. Workplace politics might wear an employee down emotionally and is one of the many reasons why they are unmotivated at work.

I have a friend Sophie who had a job in a stressful work environment. She worked in the fashion industry and several of her colleagues had the habit of speaking ill about each other behind their backs and creating unnecessary politics. Her boss was also a tyrant who would curtly speak her mind, without consideration of how the recipient would feel.  

In the first 3 months of working there, Sophie had a tough time adapting to the agile working environment. She was a fresh graduate and was not ready for such a hostile working environment. She found herself crying in the toilet cubicles at least once a day, but despite the toughness of the job, she knew that this was the industry she wanted to stay in. She then decided that she had to change her mind set on how she coped with the pressures of work.  

Some of her senior colleagues gave her advice to grow a thicker skin and to not take tensions at work personally. They asked her to keep cordial with her teammates while shifting her focus towards her career to stay afloat in the tough work culture. Sophie followed this advice closely, even though it was difficult to get used to in the beginning.  

Eventually, Sophie grew accustomed to the work culture. She recognized that she could not be friends with her colleagues, but decided to keep a healthy work relationship with them to get her tasks done efficiently and to maintain productivity.  

Sophie’s situation is extreme, however, many of us have experienced difficult colleagues or bosses. So, if you find yourself in a similar position, we’ve listed some tips that can help you improve work relationships with your colleagues:  

1. Don’t Take Things Personal

Now, this might be a difficult habit to get used to but it will help you in the long run. No one is out to hurt you on purpose, if your colleague or boss snapped at you in a situation that was uncalled for, it could be their way of projecting their own personal issues on you. This is not your fault. Stay positive and grow a thicker skin in such situations to prevent yourself from getting hurt unnecessarily.  

Sophie’s boss would snap at her and undermine her skills in the fashion industry. This hurt Sophie at the start and made her feel less confident in her abilities. Sophie knew that she was new in the field and had lots to learn before she would be seen a legitimate contributor. Her focus on her goals helped her to thicken her skin and not take the offences personally, she knew she wanted to be established and did all that she could to get to that place.  

Not taking things personally can help you achieve your goals better. But of course, if your boss or colleagues are giving you positive criticism, use that information to change yourself and grow for the better.  

2. Be Mindful of your Place in the Company

Know your place in the company and keep a clear mind at work. Practice understanding and empathy towards your colleagues – they’re probably going through their own issues as well. When you be nice, more often than not, people will want to be nice to you.  

Sophie decided that she would make it a point to join her colleagues for lunch. This allowed her to understand them better and relate to them on a more personal level. This helped her form respect and care for them which transferred to her work relationship with them as well.  

Understanding that you are also an employee in the company and that you have work in a team to get your tasks done, restructures your mindset at work. You’ll learn to adapt to the different personalities of your colleagues and interact with them in a more productive and efficient way.

3. Be Responsible

Sometimes, you need to reflect on your own behavior in your company to realize why you aren’t getting along with your colleagues. Have you taken been lacking in terms of work? There are times that tensions could arise when colleagues feel that they have to pick up after your slack or if they are working harder than you.  

Acknowledging and being responsible for your own tasks can help you foster stronger bonds with your colleagues. No one wants a freeloader on their team 

I think the first step towards fostering a better relationship with your colleagues begins from you. Recognize the areas that you are lacking in and change them. From there, work towards building a cordial relationship with your peers through respect for each other  and mutual understanding of the tasks at hand. 

Check out our career guidance page for more useful lifestyle and career tips!   

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