The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyPersuasion & Influence7 Surefire Ways to Dominate Office Politics

7 Surefire Ways to Dominate Office Politics

How the tail can wag the dog when it comes to office politics.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

How do you navigate office politics efficiently?

You might hate office politics—and that is understandable. Still, you could turn managing office politics into a valuable communication skill.

Here we go:

7 Ways To Dominate Office Politics

When prompted, most people would say that they hate office politics. They would describe it as a waste of everyone’s time. There’s merit to this argument, but this perspective will also likely hold you back.

I would suggest considering your workplace contextually: Politics happens when people with different agendas use power and influence to get their way.

Your workplace is no exception.

Here are seven strategies for navigating office politics:

1. Practice Douchebag Slalom

“But I just want to focus on doing the best job I can instead of spending half my time dealing with incompetent douchebags.”

That’s fair—to a degree.

First, you’d have to consider the possibility that those “incompetent douchebags” are frustrated about spending their time dealing with you. After all, few douchebags are aware of being douchebags.

Second, douchebags have a habit of bickering with each other. It’s part of their repertoire. Plus, they can’t stand other douchebags, either.

Third, douchebags are everywhere.

Word to the wise: Being truly competent at your job includes knowing how to slalom incompetent douchebags—and still get the job done.

2. Emulate a Type A Personality

Unlike douchebags, Type A personalities rarely fight each other.

Type A personalities don’t whine, they don’t complain, and they don’t engage in unnecessary arguments. In so many words: They’re adults.

You should be an adult, too.

If two adults disagree, they outline their arguments and listen carefully to each other with the intent to understand.

Then, if an adult receives a better counter-argument, they will change their minds without adding status or prestige into the mix.

By recognizing Type A personalities in the workplace, you can study and mimic their traits. They steer clear of douchebags, and they never engage with them on an emotional level.

3. “Wow” Your Colleagues

There are many ways to navigate a social environment. Some try to make friends. Some try to suck up to the right people. Some people try their utmost to be agreeable to everyone. Others engage in darker tactics, like strategic bullying, abuse of power, and clique formation.

However, a potent strategy for navigating an office is continuously impressing people.

The art of impressing someone is situational and has two components:

  • A display of competence.
  • An unexpected but welcome delivery.

The second part critical key:

You don’t want to come across as the wise-ass kid sitting in front of the classroom with your hand stuck in the air; nothing about such a delivery is unexpected—nor is it welcome.

4. Pick Fights After Your Pay Grade

If you’re not in charge of internal communication, don’t make it your business to set everyone straight. The same is true for corporate culture, leadership decisions, product/market fit, supply chain logistics, etcetera.

Make sure to get your job done (which includes negotiating any obstacles in your path) instead of trying to do (or second-guess) someone else’s.

If you’re better at a specific job than the person tasked with actually doing it, either apply for that job or keep your head down.

5. Say, “The Job is Now Done”

I’ve worked as a leader in different settings, and it can be pretty taxing to have people come up to you all day with problems. It’s part of the job, of course, but I can’t stress how awesome it is to have a coworker come up to you and say, “The job is now done.”

A coworker might come to you on rare but blissful occasions and say, “The job is done. Next, I’m tackling this other thing. I’ll keep you posted.”

Oh, the happiness!

“The job is done” might be the most beautiful phrase in the business. And the kicker is that anyone who makes a habit of delivering this particular news will rarely have a problem with office politics. 1If the job is indeed done, of course. The only caveat is that you must deliver this news face-to-face and one-to-one. That’s just the way this works..

6. Work the Floor Daily

No matter how much work’s on your plate, you should always leave your desk and work the floor at least once daily.

There will always be coworkers available for a friendly exchange of words. While it might not be all that important to some of us, investing a few minutes in making others feel better can’t be considered a waste of time.

Let go of your ego and your endeavours for a few minutes and take an interest in other people.

Now, some will jump at the opportunity to take advantage of your attentiveness by trying to use you as a sounding board for complaints and criticism.

If you habitually steer such conversations back to a positive focus, you will quickly take the wind out of most bitter people.

7. Use Dog Psychology

Dogs have a tendency not to process negative feedback very well. In enforcing change, your chances might be better if you play the long game using only a) praise and b) absence of praise.

By praising your coworkers often, your colleagues will start to expect that positive feedback from you. You should therefore be generous with praise.

The trick here, of course, is to hold back on that praise for any behaviours you don’t condone. The absence of praise in this context is likely to have a more significant effect than verbal direct negative feedback. 2My principle is that I only deliver direct negative feedback to someone in a professional setting if I’m explicitly paid to do just that.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

1 If the job is indeed done, of course. The only caveat is that you must deliver this news face-to-face and one-to-one. That’s just the way this works.
2 My principle is that I only deliver direct negative feedback to someone in a professional setting if I’m explicitly paid to do just that.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.


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