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Office Politics – 9 Secrets to Increasing Your Influence at Work

No matter where you work, you’ll deal with office politics. The sooner you learn how to play the game, the more influence you’ll have at work – and in your own career.

These tips for making work better will help you deal with office politics, get along with difficult coworkers, and improve your job performance.

Before the tips, a quip:

“All winning teams are goal-oriented. Teams like these win consistently because everyone connected with them concentrates on specific objectives. They go about their business with blinders on; nothing will distract them from achieving their aims. ” ~ Lou Holtz.

The first tip for overcoming the negative effects of office politics is to make sure you’re on a team that has the same goals as you do. And, you need to learn how to handle critics, brag about yourself in a professional and charming way, and know how to flow through office politics without letting them get to you.

If you’re struggling at work, read The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner.  Peggy Klaus’ practical tips for career success is delivered in the conversational style of a one-on-one session with a personal coach.

And, here are a few tips for dealing with office politics…

Office Politics – 9 Secrets to Increasing Your Influence at Work

1. Embrace – don’t avoid – office politics. According to Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, office politics can help you improve your work environment and achieve your career goals. Office politcs are simply about going out of your way to help coworkers and give them what they need. In return, they’ll do the same. This quid pro quo can move your career forward faster than hard work and loyalty.

2. Ask for feedback at work. If you’re concerned about your job performance, ask a trusted colleague for feedback. Ask the questions you’d find on employee evaluations, such as: “Tell me what I did in that meeting that helped me or hindered me from achieving my career goals,” or “How could I have communicated my point more effectively.”

And, remember that doing a good job isn’t what gets you promoted at work.

3. Prepare requests in advance. Whether you’re asking for a job promotion, a raise, or time off, make sure you rehearse your requests in advance. Be direct, straightforward, and accompany each request with two or three legitimate reasons why you should be given it. Offer solid information to back up your request, such as the number of widgets you sold last month.

4. Don’t take workplace conflict, mistakes, or problems personally. If you’re taken to task because of a mistake at work (real or perceived), don’t take it personally. Imagine you’re protected by a Plexiglass shield; you can see out, but negativity and criticism can’t touch you. This tip for creating a better work environment will help you get ahead by encouraging you not to retreat after making a mistake.

5. Build solid professional relationships. “If you’re not spending 5% of your day building relationships, you’re doing something wrong,” says Frankel. People make professional decisions based on relationships, not necessarily skill, talent, or dedication. And, those professional decisions can make or break your career!

6. Know the rules of the game at your workplace. To deal with office politics, know what the spoken and unspoken rules are at your workplace. For instance, is it taboo to go home before 4 pm? Can budgets be flexed, or must they be strictly adhered to? The more you know which rules can be bent or broken, the more successful you’ll be at work.

7. Speak up when tasks are inappropriately delegated. Learn how to say no and recognize inappropriate delegation at work. Frankel says, “Practice saying unapologetically, ‘You know, I’d love to help you out with this but I’m just swamped.’ Then stop talking.”

To learn more about sailing the rough seas of office politics when you’re a supervisor, read Tips for Delegating Successfully at Work.

8. Ask for introductions. Do you want to meet a potential or current client, the president of the company, or the boss’s husband? Speak up! Get comfortable asking for referrals, phone numbers, and introductions.

9. Don’t be swayed by anger or annoyance (yours or other people’s). If you’re negotiating with difficult coworkers or dealing with workplace conflict, don’t let emotion get the better of you. “When people get annoyed or angry with us, it’s often for the purpose of getting us to do what they want. Don’t fall for the ploy,” writes Frankel. To succceed at work, let go of your need to be liked and your fear of confrontation.

Are you influential at work, or do office politics get the better of you? Comments welcome below…

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6 thoughts on “Office Politics – 9 Secrets to Increasing Your Influence at Work”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tana,

    I’ve written an article about dealing with harassment at work:

    Stop Harassment at Work – 9 Tips for Dealing With More-Than-Difficult Coworkers

    I hope it helps!

    All good things,

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I’m writing an article about dealing with harrassment at work, and will post the link here within a day or two.

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post …Pay Off Your Mortgage – 5 Ways to Make Mortgage Payments Go Away =-.

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Muez,

    To give specific career tips, I need more specific information about your work problems! What is the pressure you’re working under? If I know whether you’re dealing with office politics, toxic coworkers, a demanding boss, or poor work conditions, I might be able to give you some pointers….

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post …Pay Off Your Mortgage – 5 Ways to Make Mortgage Payments Go Away =-.

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    A recent research study shows that career women in leadership positions are more likely to be harrassed than men in leadership positions.

    Here’s a bit of the press release, called: “Female Supervisors More Susceptible to Workplace Sexual Harrassment”, from ScienceDaily:

    Women who hold supervisory positions are more likely to be sexually harassed at work, according to the first-ever, large-scale longitudinal study to examine workplace power, gender and harassment.

    The study, which will be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, reveals that nearly fifty percent of women supervisors, but only one-third of women who do not supervise others, reported harassment in the workplace. In more conservative models with stringent statistical controls, women supervisors were 137 percent more likely to be harassed than women who did not hold managerial roles. While supervisory status increased the likelihood of harassment among women, it did not significantly impact the likelihood for men.

    “This study provides the strongest evidence to date supporting the theory that sexual harassment is less about desire than about control and domination,” said Heather McLaughlin, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota and the study’s primary investigator. “Male co-workers, clients and supervisors seem to be using harassment as an equalizer against women in power.”

    If you’re a working woman who wants to move your career forward, a success tip is to be prepared for harrassment. It seems inevitable!