7 Surefire Ways to Dominate Office Politics

Use psychology to get your way.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


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 is the 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 applies to cor­por­ate cul­ture, lead­er­ship decisions, product/​market fit, sup­ply chain logist­ics, etc. 

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 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 will likely have a more sig­ni­fic­ant effect than verbal dir­ect neg­at­ive feed­back. 2My prin­ciple is that I only deliv­er dir­ect neg­at­ive feed­back to someone pro­fes­sion­ally if I’m expli­citly paid to do just that.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

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 pro­fes­sion­ally if I’m expli­citly paid to do just that.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations obviously; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that it's good to have hobbies outside work.

The cover photo has



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