How to deal with office politics

THE GOSSIP MILL

Gossiping happens inside of every workplace. Regardless of whether you are in a highly competitive sales position at a car dealership or if you are an employee at a not-for-profit organization, you aren’t going to be able to escape the gossip mill. Rather than try to avoid it altogether, isolating yourself from the rest of the office staff, you should practice responsible gossip. For one, during your first three to six months of employment, you should do your best to stay neutral.

You need to allow yourself the time to figure out who you fall in with once you begin to feel comfortable in a new work environment. There are going to be various employees who are subtly campaigning to get you on their “side” of the official political scene, but you should strive to start off only as a listener, and not a contributor, to the office gossip. Also, you should always avoid gossiping about people’s personal attributes; office gossip should be office-related; it shouldn’t seek to insult someone in a hurtful way.

For example, you shouldn’t be gossiping about how much weight Jenny has gained, and how she is constantly stuffing her face with doughnuts every morning. If you have a problem with the fact that Jenny is always late to your weekly sales meeting, then you can gossip about that, but leave Jenny’s wide behind out of it.

THE SENSITIVE SALARY SUBJECT

Even in industries that are considered to be non-competitive, competition between employees is unavoidable. It’s just human nature to have the desire to be at the top of the pack. However, it is unacceptable and inappropriate to discuss your salary with your co-workers or to ask them about their salaries. In fact, most companies have a policy dictating to employees that they are forbidden from talking about their salary, and the ramifications for doing so can be as severe as the termination of employment.

If you have that competitive spirit burning inside of you, then strive to perform at your very best. Strive to impress your manager. Strive to meet and exceed all of your quotas. If you feel that you are not being paid what you are worth, that doesn’t give you the right to nose around for personal information from your fellow co-workers. You can certainly approach your manager to discuss the possibility for a salary increase if you truly feel it is warranted, but your boss should be the only person that you ever enter into a salary discussion with.

FALL IN LINE

Nobody likes a show-off. Some people like brown-nosers, but nobody likes a show-off. If it is your nature to become the right-hand man in your office, then you have to accept the reality that your co-workers aren’t going to be thrilled with you. Think about it: you’re making them look bad. They will feel that in comparison to you, they are going to come across as a bunch of slackers, and so they will naturally be compelled to ostracize you for it.

Do your best, but keep your fellow co-worker’s feelings in mind, and make a conscious effort not to constantly steal the show. Even worse than alienating your co-workers is alienating your boss. You may think that you are smarter than your boss, but your boss better not think you think so.

Do not correct your boss or try to come up with ideas that are within his or her jurisdiction and not yours. Never ever go to your boss with about an idea you have without taking the idea to your first-in-line boss first. If your boss feels like you are trying to work over his head, he’s not going to like it, and in turn, he’s going to do his best to keep you in your place.

Your intention in outshining your boss may have been to work your way up the proverbial corporate ladder, but in reality, it could wind up sending you out the basement door.

Your intention in outshining

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