How to Survive Office Politics

 In Develop & Coach


Recently we were asked by a Young Professionals organization to give a presentation about how to survive office politics. They wanted to understand what it is and how to maneuver through political landmines at work.

It was a fun and lively discussion as you can imagine because it’s such a hot topic that people face in every single workplace. Everyone had their own ideas about office issues and how to deal with them.

We thought we’d gather the highlights for you so you’ll know you’re not alone.

So what exactly is office politics?

According to Wikipedia (the highest authority in the land LOL) it’s “the use of power and social networking within an organization to achieve changes that benefit the organization or individuals within it…How power gets worked out on a practical day to day basis.”

Office politics is not necessarily a negative animal, but if you aren’t politically savvy, it can be overwhelming so that’s the main aspect that most people focus on.

Top 3 questions about how to survive office politics

We’ve combined our responses to 3 main questions with some of the great insights added by the participants:

1. What are the signs? How do you know if you’ve just stepped into the world of office politics?

  • Look for signs of manipulation to achieve goals at the expense of colleagues (team or company), such as sabotage.
  • Other Signs include stretching the truth or outright lying. Look out for deliberate miscommunication, omission of information-especially negative, playing dumb.
  • Starting to sound familiar? You’ll see culturally-based office politics and gender-based politics.
  • One of the worst forms of politics in the office is based on greed or financial gain. For example, this can rear its ugly head during the budgeting process in the form of sandbagging goals.
  • It’s all about control, but it comes in many different forms and some of them are actually beneficial.

2. Who are the players in this game? Everyone can play—your peers, your supervisors, your subordinates.

  • Political games can be played by leadership and you can see it in team vs team or department vs department.
  • Even our shareholders, our customers, and our suppliers can be involved.

3. What is your role?

  • If you are in a leadership role (official or unofficial) you need to be aware of political games as they exist.  Don’t engage in detrimental behaviors, such as gossip.
  • You are a role model and must put in checkpoints to catch yourself and others engaging in those negative activities.  Be prepared to address those instances head-on.
  • As a subordinate, just be aware of it. Learn to recognize good and bad office politics. Don’t engage in unethical or manipulative office games. Listen to the grapevine, but don’t be the grapevine.

Key points on how to thrive in the midst of office politics

Learning how to survive office politics, or even thrive can be beneficial to your career. Don’t abuse your power/authority, be trustworthy, and work hard as a team player. These traits can make you a very influential and politically savvy individual.

Once you’ve learned to recognize office politics in action and what you might expect to experience, here are 4 suggestions to dealing with political landmines:

  1. Learn from criticism and don’t feel defeated by it.
  2. Don’t be emotional.
  3. Support open communication with your boss and with other coworkers.
  4. Find a mentor to give you guidance and help you learn to gain the trust and support of other team members.

Want some tips to help you to deal with political landmines at work? Click the button below and we will send you a FREE tip sheet on “Thriving in the Midst of Office Politics”


What techniques can YOU share on how to survive office politics? We’d love to hear from you so come on over to our Facebook page and give a shout.

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