Topic of the Week Game Change: Positive Politics at Work
- Do anticipate political consequences.
- Do random acts of kindness.
- Do study effective people.
- Don't only talk to people who agree with you.
It's difficult to watch TV, go online or look at a newspaper today without seeing headlines about politics. But according to a recent poll, politics isn't limited to politicians. 56% of us believe that playing politics is necessary for getting ahead at work. Which reminds me of a quiz that I often give when giving a speech. I ask an audience to tell me what comes to mind when I say, "office politics." I'd always hear about backstabbing and brown nosing and get not even one example of positive politics.
Remember politics at work can also involve building community or having each other's backs. In order to encourage more positive politics, I've outlined three Do's and one Don't below.
Do anticipate political consequences. My English teacher in high school always gave us two grades on all of our writing assignments. One for content and one for style. Is it any different at work? We'll always be judged on both the quality of our work and the politics surrounding it. Yet, many of us just deny that politics exist, mostly to our own detriment. That's why I always suggest to people to get input from others, don't tune out criticism and put effort into building support for your ideas.
Do random acts of kindness. We've all experienced this situation, we need a favor from someone so we suddenly do something to help them. All designed to get on their good side. The only problem is that most people can spot exactly what you're doing trying to win their trust. That's why I'm a big believer in random acts of kindness, reaching out to help people long before you need anything in return. Not only will this help you down the road, but it will go a long way to creating a saner and healthier workplace for everyone.
Do study effective people. Whenever anyone is successful at work, most of us tend to attack them. They're suck ups, or worse. I adopt a different attitude. I offer to buy them a cup of coffee so I can pick their brains. See what you can learn from successful people instead of just trashing them.
Don't only talk to people who agree with you. Most of us spend all of our time in the echo chamber of people who agree with us. Or at least we try to. I couldn't disagree more with this approach to life, or work. I actively seek out the people who will hate whatever I'm working on. Because this allows me to learn the weak spots from people other than my boss or customer. It also gives me the opportunity to form alliances with surprising allies.
A reader once wrote to me describing how he had refused to play politics at work. He used one of my favorite all time phrases to describe what had happened to him. He said he'd ended up being "dead right." Follow these tips and you will not only be right, you'll live to tell the tale.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.
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