Office politics is about being nice


Here is a message for people who say office politics don’t matter: You will die a slow, painful career death. This is because there’s no getting around office politics, and mastering them is essential to being able to steer your own career. Don’t take that as bad news, though, because mastering office politics is good for your soul. Really.

Office politics is inescapable because it’s about dealing with the people. A small percentage of people are mentally unable to understand office politics. The rest of you need to get with the program. Because where there is a group of people — anywhere, even on the playground – there is politics.

Let’s say you pack up your bags and go work in a national park, with trees and rivers and no cubicles. There will be politics about who has to take care of hikers when it’s raining and who gets to stay dry, and if you are bad at politics, you will be wet every time.

Politics is part of society. And my guess is that you want to participate in society (at least) so that you can support yourself. But people who are good at politics are generally empathetic (they understand who needs what) and they have good self-discipline (they can moderate themselves so they are pleasant to be with.)

Most people who hate politics think they have to change who they are to succeed. Really, though, anyone who is being their best self — kind, considerate, expressive, interested in others — will do fine in office politics.

So get to know yourself. Saying you just can’t do politics is giving up on being your best self. And wait, there’s more good news about office politics. If you really take a look at what’s going on over there at the water cooler, people are not jockeying for power, they are hobnobbing for projects. That’s right. For most people in today’s workplace, office politics is about getting the best opportunities to learn and grow; the best projects, the best training, the assignments that build skills the market values.

Office chatter with the vapid goal of getting power over other people is, frankly, a little offensive. But it is hard to fault people for wanting to grow and learn. In fact, I find more fault with people who care so little about personal growth that they won’t spend the extra energy politicking to get themselves on good projects.

Maybe you are convinced, but you are feeling at a loss to get started. Here are four things that people who are good at office politics do:

1. Make time for it — both in terms of face time, and time alone to analyze the face time.

2. Listen. How can you learn anything when you’re talking about what you already know?

3. Have genuine interest in other people. Each person is interesting if you are interested enough to ask the right question.

4. Practice empathy. This means putting yourself in other peoples’ shoes all the time. And not judging them.

Maybe you’re still thinking of being the person at the office who abstains from office politics. Realize that you won’t last long – in the office, that is. Putting your head down and doing your work is a good way to ensure that you don’t connect with anyone. This situation is deadly in a world where people are hired for what they know and fired for who they are. People need to get to know you in order to like you.

The act of making yourself likeable is office politicking. You shouldn’t have to be fake if you are a genuinely nice and interested person. If office politics requires you to do something that feels fake, consider that you were not likeable in the first place. For you, office politics is training ground to teach yourself to be likeable, and, as a side benefit, you will save your job. For others, office politics is the time at work when you get to be your best, true, self in search of more learning opportunities and more human connections.

53 replies
    • Shabbir
      Shabbir says:

      Honesty, candid replies, hard work, team spirit, etc, these are all great jargon for the boardroom. As the article says even if you are in the jungle and the one to get wet every time around, you can count on it that no one will notice you. I just don’t believe – or at least my present experience does not allow me to believe that there is any positive twist to Office Politics.

  1. Benjamin Strong
    Benjamin Strong says:

    Thanks for bringing this subject up again. I believe it is an important one. Office politics aren't just for suck ups. It is a way to help champion your agenda. We all have them; an increase in staffing, an increase in budget, wanting to get our fresh idea in front of a decision maker, whatever it may be.

    Last month (Penelope is going to hate me here–) at the holiday party I invited my boss, a new Rear Admiral, to visit our offices and learn more about what we do. My office is short staffed, under funded, and needs a shot of support from upper management.

    The only way I could accomplish this was by being nice and making this high level decision maker a member of the team. I prepared by reading his bio, talking to his secretary to find out what sort of soda he drinks (he is a diet Pepsi guy) and what newspaper he reads.

    When he came up I was ready. I had diet Pepsi for him. I had his newspaper ready. I knew his past, how he could help us, and helped cultivate him as one of the team. He bought it. He offered to call in some "favors". We chatted about our kids, our recent trips to India, and New York.

    He came to my office as a distant boss and left a guy in the trenches right with us, working to accomplish a common goal. We ended up with a pledge of more money and staff! I was friendly, made him comfortable, and played the office politics game; to myadvantage.

    I never "sucked up" or kissed his butt. I just treated him with respect and made him one of "us".

    I followed Penelope’s advice even before she posted it. I made time for the visit, listened to what the boss had to say, and was truly interested in his opinions and thoughts. I had a better understanding of his position and he of mine.

    It sounds corny but it worked! And it was so easy being nice.

     * * * * * *


    Thaks for the respectful nod to the five hundred times I’ve said how much I hate holiday parties. But hey, if your comapny has one, you have to go. And there’s no better use of that time than to make your boss love you.


  2. Recruiting Animal
    Recruiting Animal says:

    I see Gautam’s in there politicking. But perhaps a winning smile isn’t enough. Payoffs can be part of politics as well. And I used to work for an Indian guy who told me that in India nothing happens without a bribe. Does it enter the workplace as well as b2b?

  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    Personally, I do not really like office politics, however I do agree that if you do not play, you will be cast out.

    Be an insider, stick to your principles, treat people with respect, do not back stab other people, there are many levels of politicking, at the extreme may just be your water cooler talk and gossiping and at the other extreme, it may be back stabbing a colleague to vie for a promotion. Pick the level that you want to play on, which does not violate your morals or ethics.

    No man is an island.

    PS: Easier said than done!

  4. Alexander Kharlamov
    Alexander Kharlamov says:

    I agree with the main idea of your post – office politics are unavoidable, no matter how much you despise them and don’t want to participate. However, there can be different levels of participation. Eric is absolutely right – if you stick to your principles and don’t join the crowd in badmouthing somebody, you will only gain respect and get ahead in the office politics in the long run.

    One area where I found office politics absolutely essential is taking credit. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t say much and “let your work speak for yourself”, you’re kidding yourself. If you’re not speaking up, you’re not getting credit. And you can be sure that somebody else is taking it. Every time you do something good, make sure it becomes known, otherwise nobody will realize how awesome you are for doing it :-)

    • Guest_T
      Guest_T says:

      Alexander, I think that’s good advice up to a point. I have found it difficult to know when I’m speaking up too much – it makes me look uncool and arrogant, and I become unpopular. Do you have any tips about where to draw the line and stop speaking up about your achievements? In a recent interview, I was told “yeah, yeah, We get that you’re good at the tasks. What we really need is someone who can build effective relationships with other departments.”

  5. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    All of this is true but usually when people say they want to avoid office politics or they talk about a workplace having “a lot of office politics”, they are talking about something more hardcore. No one would deny it’s good for your career to connect with people and be nice (to a point, too much chit-chat can also get you noted for being lazy and disruptive). But “office politics” usually refers to bitter factionalism between opposing ideas and personalities. I think it’s possible, even helpful, to stay out of this and get ahead.

    Your description of one’s “best, true self” seems to be describing someone with an extrovert personality. This is obviously more difficult for natural introverts. I don’t think it’s true to say that it’s inherently better than introversion. The description “best, true self” makes it sound likes it’s about right and wrong but it’s not. And in a practical sense, while extroverts will have an easier time making these connections and that will benefit their career, introverts often have other things going for them and if they’re smart they can ensure these skills offset any lack in natural gregariousness.

    • Snake
      Snake says:

      I used to work in an office but I was always criticized for not having friends at work. My goal was to become an educator but the office did not support said goal so my college friends told me to keep my mouth shut and do my job. I did do my job correctly but I had no idea how to participate at a meeting. A stool-pigeon coworker got on my case when she saw me practicing solving quadratic equations (I was prepping for my teacher test) and she hated it when I’d not hang out with office people and instead, drove to new Jersey to see my college buds. She’d rat me out if I was one minute late in the morning (personally I felt she should’ve worried more about her two kids and husband rather than what I was up to) but I think that everyone has the right to do their job without the hassle of being competitive in the corporate world.

  6. Jason Warner
    Jason Warner says:

    This is a remarkable post.

    As someone who has spent his whole career evaluating talent and building teams to evaluate talent, effective interpersonal skills and managing office relationships are one of the consistent gaps or deficiencies that I see people struggle with (at all levels, from individual contributors just out of college to executive leadership).

    The new book Conscious Business by Fred Kofman is a must read for people interested in this topic.

    I think this idea goes far deeper than ‘office politics’ and is really about human nature, and the natural barriers that humans have to communicating effectively. The Kofman book explores this in great detail, and for me personally, provided a level of self-awareness regarding these principles that I did not expect.

    One doesn’t need to change to be effective at office relationships, one just to need to master the art/science of interpersonal dynamics and how human beings work together.

    This will augment professional success more than nearly any other professional/personal investments that one can make.

  7. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Hi Penelope,

    There’s no question that we “bring our family to work” – our biology and our biography. This is a major underlying causation of many healthy, positive, or co-dependent and dysfunctional relationships at work, relationships that are defined as “politics”.

    The underlying dynamics that characterized how we relate(d) to members of our family of origin play out everyday in our life in relationship at work vis-a-vis seeking acknowledgement, safety, appreciation, recognition, approval, being “seen”, and “loved”, etc., on the one hand, and those who we choose to push away through gossiping, bullying, resisting, undermining, sabotaging, resenting, rejecting, demeaning, etc., on the other. Our ego needs for acknowledgement, recognition and security, which we developed as we grew up now play out in our adult life at work and in our “politics” at work (and at home and at play).

    These psychodynamic behaviors are mostly unconscious except for those who have made an effort to do some type of “work” to become more conscious and self-aware of who they are and how they are in relationship at work.

    Much of the “politics” issue points to the need of most folks to be seen, by themselves and others, as “somebody” as opposed to “nobody”. Their “political” behavior is a manifestation of this ego need…again, developed early on in childhood, and now as that same child in adult clothes and in an adult body.

    Good stuff!.

    * * * * * *

    Peter, thanks for introducing birth order theory here. I am a big fan of birth order theory even though when I interviewed the king of birth order research, Frank Sulloway, he would confirm very little. Anyway, here’s my favorite book on the topic: Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, by Kevin Leman.


  8. Dave
    Dave says:

    It’s all about empathy. Listen rather than talk. Strive to understand. Do what matters to the other person. We call it politics when it is inauthentic and we don’t want to play that game. But you can’t just walk away from the game because you think you are too good to play. We need to learn to play the game of work in an honest, authentic manner.

  9. Adam
    Adam says:

    Excellent point here. It now dawns on me as to why I am in the midst of "a slow, painful career death" in my short 10yrs out of school. All isn’t lost and I know where I can improve. However, I’m curious to understand how everybody else handles the constant barrage of after hours parties and weekend socials. Am I the only one who gets tired of spending 50-60 hours / week with these people and then have to be subjected to go out for drinks every other night or the commute* to my boss’s house for a barbeque on my personal time? I would much prefer to spend this time with family, friends, and hobbies then with people I would not otherwise have a connection with if I didn’t have to work with them. Also, it appears I’ll have to figure out how to handle this delicately because when I mention this point of view to my co-workers, I receive odd looks so clearly I am the only one that feels like this.

    How does one balance climbing the ladder and not looking like an anti-social?

    * Currently it is a 2hr commute to my Director’s house because he chooses to live in the Inland Empire of SoCal where he can afford to have a backyard.

    * * * * *

    Going to your boss’s house for multiple barbeques is absurd. One is nice to go to, if you can swing it.

    But the bigger issue is that you don’t need to go out with people after work in order to do a good job with office politics. You just need to make genuine connections with a lot of individual people at work. Then, when they are all out together they each have a real relationship with you, on some level, so it doesn’t matter that you are not one of their after-work-socializing relationships. Each person will have something in common with you if you dig around enough. Find that thing and really make it matter.

    The important part of this advice is that you have to allow for a significant portion of each of your work days to be devoted to building relationships. It’s part of your job.

    Good luck. I applaud your honest effort in the social arena. One of the biggest indicators of whether someone will succeed socially is if they have huge intent to. So you are doing fine for yourself in that regard.


  10. Gautam Ghosh
    Gautam Ghosh says:

    Yesterday at a friends house there was an experience shared of a boss who never tolerates dissent of any sort. No ideas that conflict with his values/ideas. If one does that, either one gets transferred out of the group or out of the job.

    A savvy organizational person would realise the pattern of this person’s behavior and know the futility of trying to change him.

    It’s ultimately trying to understand what your strengths are and where can you most effectively deploy them :-)

    * * * * * *


    I like this example. Thanks for sharing it.

    Even in an extreme case like this, there is no point in trying to change your boss. You’ll get a lot farther by finding a way to connect with him, and figuring out how you can help him acheive his goals. So, okay, he’s obstinate and not open to new ideas. You can work with that. He’s not hurting you – he’s hurting himself.


  11. CKWong
    CKWong says:

    Dear Penelope, Thanks for this excellent post, I just realized I’m in the same position as Adam. I’ve been with my company for 8 years and I have done nothing but many long hours and not to mention 365/24/7 on call. However, everyone else seems to have moved on to better stuffs except me. I always thought of myself as the longest nobody working in my department. And of course I refuse to play the game…always thinking that my hard work and long hour sacrifice would someday pay off…

    I think I’m in a battle of either start playing the game or get a new job (which will most likely require playing the game anyway). And so I have decided to join the inevitable and see how far it might take me. Thank you again for the enlightened post.

  12. Colin Kingsbury
    Colin Kingsbury says:

    While I like this post on principle, I think the issue of politics is getting conflated with being stuck on a dead-end track.

    There are many reasons one can get stuck running in place forever, and quite a few of them have little to do with politics. If you take any company over a five year period and you look at who moves up the ladder and when, some obvious patterns will emerge.

    Lots of jobs lead sideways no matter who holds them or how hard they work. You need to look at where you want to go and who else is in line and how long they’ve been there. It’s also worth comparing yourself to your peers at your own level and judging how much like them you look. If they’re all younger and have been there half as long, time to move on. In many, perhaps most cases, if you’re a good value creator you will have an easier time proving your potential to a new employer than convincing your management to let you out of the cage, especially if you do a really good job at something no one else wants to do.

    Politics, on the other hand, is an issue that affects you anywhere, and almost always gets worse the more you are on the “fast track.” Especially in larger companies, it is important to know who is talking to whom and about what. One of the worst beatings I ever took in my career happened largely because I underestimated the willingness of a certain person to repeatedly question my competency behind my back. My general experience is that the more competent people are, the less of this goes on, which gives some sense of when you have to be most on guard for it.

     * * * * * * *

    Hi, Colin. What I like about your comment is that you lay out so many different aspects of office politics. But, alas, it’s all politics.

    If you are not on a good track, for example, it’s your job to figure out how to move yourself. And the best way to move yourself from a bad position to a good position is via office politics: Find out where the good positions are, find out who can get you there, and befriend them. Or maybe you’ll find out where the good positions are and you’ll find out you can’t get there, and you’ll go to another company. No matter what, it starts with politics.

    The worst thing to do in a career is to approach a problem thinking you have no control over it. You can control everything becuase you choose how you work and you choose where you work. The fine tuning of all this is the politics.

    Finally, competent people do office politics so competently that it looks like it’s not politics but rather just being nice. -Penelope



  13. Colin Kingsbury
    Colin Kingsbury says:


    Thanks for your response. I think that most people recognize a difference between positive politics, where people are maneuvering for ends that are broadly well-intentioned, and negative politics, where people are seeking private advantage or working from more mixed motives. Of course, the difference can easily be in the eye of the beholder, but I think it’s worth distinguishing between the two, if only for the sake of discussion, lest we say that all politics are simply business as usual and the term loses its usefulness.

    The only other bone I’d pick is that it strikes me as being very focused on people trying to improve their lot within their existing employers. I’m a little of two minds about this. On one hand I think that it’s easy for some people to blame the company for their own flaws, I think it’s equally easy for others to do the opposite. So, I guess what I’d say is that you need to give things time to make changes, but not too much time.

  14. Carter Cathey
    Carter Cathey says:


    I like this post quite a bit and think that you are absolutely correct that nobody can afford to ignore office politics.

    Similar to Colin, I think, I have noticed that the people who complain about office politics the most are people that:

    – feel like their job wants them to ‘pretend’ to be somebody that they are not.
    – are in a job that is a bad match for their skills and aspirations.
    – are sullen and discontent without knowing what to do about it.
    – are afraid of the unknown and resist change.

    I think, in the right environment, office politics can be challenging. In the wrong environment, it can be debilitating. A better use of emotional capital would be an honest self-assessment and work toward finding a new job that is a better fit.

  15. John
    John says:

    “Office politics aren't just for suck ups.”

    “When he came up I was ready. I had diet Pepsi for him. I had his newspaper ready. I knew his past, how he could help us, and helped cultivate him as one of the team. He bought it.”

    “I was friendly, made him comfortable, and played the office politics game; to myadvantage.”

    “I never "sucked up" or kissed his butt.”

    Ok, first, I’d like to point out that having his diet Pepsi ready, his newspaper, etc. is indeed sucking up and kissing his butt.

    Secondly, and more importantly, your other comments bring up the exact thing that I hate about office politics: it is a game, nothing more. If he ‘bought it’ when you ‘played the office politics game’, how are you being this rosy picture of a perfect person as Penelope expresses, and not sucking up and kissing his butt?

    Sure, being nice *to those in power* is obviously a part of playing this game, and if you have a good boss, it’s not that hard. My main issue is when you have to do that kind of thing to jackass superiors for which you have little respect or that you may even downright despise. I just feel dirty and sleazy when I think about having to act like this towards someone whom I wouldn’t give the sweat off my balls to if they were dying of thirst.

    And, as someone already pointed out, when talking about ‘office politics,’ people are usually referring to that backstabber who is nice to your face but talks down about you to the boss (and eventually convincing the boss that you’re a bad worker/not a team player/not as good as the backstabber/etc.). And, usually, this is indeed a power play for more/better projects. It’s difficult for normal, decent people to lower themselves to playing this kind of game, playing the boss against others, especially in self defense type situations. It is this type of ‘office politics’ that give people the most issue.

  16. Sherlyn May
    Sherlyn May says:

    I work in a company where almost everyone sucks, except me. I was being laid off just because I do not know how to please my lady boss. Now that i have left the company and embarking on a new career soon, I am very concern the nightmares I had in my previous company will haunt on me – retrenchment. I knew I have a problem in interacting with people / colleague. Most of the time, I would require more time to understand the person before I open up myself. I guess this is mainly because i am an introvert by nature.
    Please advise how do I overcome my shyness before I was being retrenched due to poor socialising.

    * * * * * * *
    It’s not just the shyness you have to overcome. Here are other things you need to get over:
    Your sexist attitude toward female management – you add a gender qualifier to your boss in your comment yet none is necessary unless you have a hard time with women.
    Your arrogance – someone there doesn’t suck becuase they’re earning enough to give you a paycheck.
    Your misunderstanding about what skills are important at work – at this point, the only skill you need to work on is being kind. You need to understand why you do not feel kind toward other people and what you can do to change that.


  17. Rick
    Rick says:

    I find this article to be just the opposite of what is really happening. My belief is that people continously politic not to better themselves, but to get ahead because they really do not know what they are doing in the first place so they use that to move to the next level. Think of it this way…you can be the best at what you do, read books to better yourself and get advice outside the work place. These are the people I find to be better all around but because they dont “politic” they dont get ahead…Interesting….

  18. Government Worker
    Government Worker says:

    When I think about politics in the workplace, to me, it always boils down to the fact that everyone wantsto have power, but there is only so much and so only a limited few can actually get (i.e. mandate, budget, authority, prestige, decision-making-power, the chance to make a difference, to have a say in how the organization operates, etc. etc.).

    If you are actually trying to go after a piece of their power then to them you are the enemy, even if your strategy is to use niceness to do so. Enemies have to be crushed. If you are nice, then they will likely see you as less threatening and so they will reduce their assessment of how much they will have to do to neutralize you and render you no longer a threat.

  19. jrandom42
    jrandom42 says:

    Fantastic! Another post showing us Asperger’s are doomed to be unemployable and alone, just because we just can’t fathom office politics. None of your suggestions have ever worked for me, so I’m stuck relying on smarts, experience, technical skills and hustle. I guess I’m really screwed, because it seems that competency is WAY overrated!

  20. Dragoll
    Dragoll says:

    When I first started working, office politics to me was pointless. But as I’ve worked up the chain, it has become very much part of my office skills. I actually find Penelopes’ method works fantastically for me and I have been using it for many years.

    Ultimately office politics by itself will not get you too far, I have seen directors that are just 100% politicians and provide no real value, but if your CEO/board are on the ball, these people are found out and ousted. If you can’t backup your talk by walking the walk, then you will be job hopping for the rest of your life.

  21. Anand
    Anand says:

    All this playing nice just to make yourself a better higher paying employee.
    I think when at the end of the day you ask the question – Whom am I ultimately making rich by putting all my efforts and playing nice?
    The answer as an employee will certainly not be YOURSELF.

    Just my 2 cents.

  22. damien
    damien says:

    Your post is refreshing although i may not be able to agree to everything you said. You are definitely right about not being able to avoid politics.

    i have been job hopping because i simply cannot stand being embroiled in politics. Some people just turn out to be inept at dealing with really annoying human beings. I have made some sincere friends though, but most colleagues are just really out to get somebody under their shoes just to get ahead.

    As i reflect on the past 8 working years, i found out that working for somebody isn’t my cup of tea. For those out there who are being suck-ups and playing the field, good luck to you. I am heading for my own business and while i cannot avoid politics, at least i am playing politics with my clients to make money FOR MYSELF instead of doing it for the sake of some invisible “prospects” of getting ahead.

    i once posed this question to a friend of mine who is quite successful in the construction business,” why would you want to risk everything to gamble on this risky business?”

    his answer was simple and yet most profound. “life is short, why spend endless hours making money for somebody that you don’t care for when you can spend it making money for yourself?”

    For those out there who think alike, go out and explore. The world is a big place, i am sure there is a place where “negative, non conformist” people like us can grow.

    • T.
      T. says:

      “life is short, why spend endless hours making money for somebody that you don’t care for when you can spend it making money for yourself?”

      Wow. I think that quote along sums up why “Business Management” is the top major at my university. People want to manage themselves and feel in control of their own destiny while getting direct returns on their investments!

      Office politics…blahhh

  23. Jace
    Jace says:

    Always take the high road. I.e., never talk bad about someone to the boss as a strategy for responding to the feeling that they are doing the same about you (even thought they may be nice to you to your face).

  24. May Knowme
    May Knowme says:

    I do not want to do good at office politics. I refuse. Therefore, I will likely starve. I still refuse. It is stupid and beneath me. And no, selling out is not good for your soul. Compromising with a type of behavior just so that you can temporarily satiate a bunch of incompetent and unintelligent goons (who you would otherwise have nothing to do with) is not the way I am going to spend my life. No thank you! There has to be another way. And if there isn’t another way, I will die trying to find it.

  25. SVR
    SVR says:

    Office is politics is not generally being interested in others. It is to persist in being interested in people you’d rather not spend time with.
    Trust me, thats not easy to do. But hey, if you dont want your career to “die a slow death” you gotta do it.

  26. Rainbow Zebra
    Rainbow Zebra says:

    Office politics is a fact of working in an office environment but there are measures you can take to avoid becoming embroiled in a situation you’d rather not be in.

    Always be honest with fellow co-workers and be yourself around everyone.

    Don’t be one person to your boss and another to your co-workers!

    If you’re not happy with something – say!

    If in a meeting and you’ve got an opinion that may ‘rock the boat’ it is still better to raise it and give reasons for your opinion than keep it to yourself or even worse mention it to people who can do nothing about it.

    You will always encounter office politics but they need not ruin your working life!

  27. helen
    helen says:

    In my company I see leadership being very responsive to females who laugh and giggle with them, to males who tell them what they want to hear while beating their chests and to others who display silly antics and tell inappropriate jokes. I don’t do any of these things and I am constantly reminded that leadership is puzzled by me and that they “don’t know me”. I try to be professional, make intelligent decisions; but how do I deal with this brand of politics?

  28. Jen
    Jen says:

    I agree to a point. I am a MAJOR Introvert by nature and am more comfortable and “at my best and nicest” when I’m left alone to do my job. My co-workers know this. I do grit my teeth and bear-it for the “Team Building” exercises. I do generally get along with most of my co-workers, and am known as a go-to gal for almost everything (I’ve been at my current job almost 14 years) But it’s BECAUSE I am usually at my desk working, while others are hanging around the water cooler that I have this reputation. In other words, I know the job/company and get handed the tougher projects because I’ve proven to my superiors time and again that I am reliable and available to get the job done. I know the important contacts in the company. The ones that I can rely on to get the job done. Also, people know where I am and how to find me, I’m at my desk or in a meeting, they don’t have to run around the office looking for me. I find I’ve garnered more respect, a higher reputation in the industry and more company awards in the long run through my work-ethic than any amount of networking or playing office political games. I’m sorry, I’m being paid to go a job, I don’t play games and sometimes you have to lay things on the line and that requires not being so nice. I have personally found that people will go much further in life and in their careers if they prove themselves to be reliable, hard-working, capable and a person of integrity more so than if your superior finds you hanging out at a water cooler half the time shooting a breeze. They want to promote people that can get the job done, not people that “yes” and “BS” them to death. Business now, more than ever is about the bottom-line and if you can’t perform, produce and keep your company current and competitive, there’s no reason they should hang on to you. Especially if there are thousands of other capable applicants knocking at the front door to get your position. Hanging around any water-cooler these days to me is sheer suicide. And if your superiors aren’t offering you those “better projects” and “positions”, or you don’t know about them, then you need to give yourself a good, long, honest, hard look and ask yourself why.

  29. trai tim xay dung
    trai tim xay dung says:

    You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  30. Susan
    Susan says:

    Office politics..SHOULD be about being nice, creating a positive influence, promoting healthy political views and environement, engaged in healthy debate, but more often than not it is used for all the wrong reasons; to either self promote, get a personal agenda across or pass the time with idle gossip.

    Office politics is about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, of interests which are often manifested as office politics. It boils down to communication and relationships. How can we help one another?

    I’ve worked in several companies where eventually management had to step in to regulate the abuse, attacks, bullying. Politics is seldom used for the common good. Most often it is used by employees lacking in confidence who are trying to alienate someone they are jealous of, including someone with a good work ethic who might interfere with lazy habits. It may also be used to fast track to a better position quickly, stepping over others. Over the years I’ve overheard a lot of politics, and most of what i heard about others were lies, gross exaggerations, employees trying to impress, jockey for a better position at someone else’s expense…Politics is usually a case of undermining someone else to promote their own agenda. You hear it all the time in the media, politicians hurling insults and having to defend said insult and themselves. And negative news sells. People don’t want to read about Pollyana.

    Yes, everyone has to work with, around office politics, and it can be difficult especially when defending lies, reputation, exagerrations, various levels of attack. People fear the unknown I will be courteous to, but not engage in conversations with those who insult, harrass, try to embarrass fellow employees. I will also speak from a point of empathy, if I need to decline. I believe in karma. Sometimes politics can be a good thing when used for the common good, to help others less fortunate, develop confidence, create a healthy, productive, effective work environment. But most often the gossip mills are run by employees with too much time on their hands, who are not focussed on work, become easily distracted so boredom sets in, and they engage in politics…it’s a way of distracting others…releasing some negative energy. Some politics can be healthy and playful, but I will avoid any politics that is hurtful to others. I am not perfect and there were times I didn’t always do the right thing and got sucked in to the politics believing some of the lies I was told by colleagues which hurt a fellow colleague.

    I feel for the most part people engage in poliitcs because they may want a promotion or fear losing their jobs, so are full of self promotion and ripping on others. There are times when it is used to learn new things about the company and that is a positive. There are many levels of politics, and it’s improtant to understand them. Sometimes managers utilize politics to divide and create an atmosphere of competition. There should be more courses on how to redirect negative politcs back to positive politics in the workplace, school. Situations would be healthier, more productive.

  31. H.
    H. says:

    How to find a good balance between:
    – doing office politics, connecting with people and being “liked”, part of the group/team
    – and adopting a more offensive attitude towards colleagues, making your point clear when they don’t perform or act as needed.

    I bring up this question as in some offices there are serious issues within and between teams, and addressing those issues as a colleague might make you ” less popular”.

    Any ideas?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. carpe factum says:

    So… Who’s Right?

    I ran across two interesting – albeit very opposing – posts this past week on the topic of office politics. Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist had a great post on the topic. Her premise is that dealing with politics is

  2. The AntiSyphus Effect says:

    Friday Favorites

    Welcome to Friday Favorites. If you’re new here, each Friday I like to give a shout-out to the blog postings that spoke to me that week (assuming I have time during the week to keep up with the blogosphere at

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