On the job : Positive office politics

Ever notice how some mediocre employees rise while more competent ones languish? Often, it’s because they know how to play office politics. You’d like to think you can succeed purely on your merits. In some offices you can, but in others, you must know how to play the game. Here’s how to win at office politics — without selling your soul.

Positive Politics

In office politics, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once a coworker or boss is out to get you, it’s hard to avoid being stabbed in the back. Play positive politics, though, and your coworkers and bosses will probably turn any stabbing instincts elsewhere. Here are a few positive politics strategies:

Perform Acts of Kindness

Stay late one night to help a coworker on a deadline. Send a handwritten thank-you note to the person who gave you that Word tip.

Do Visible, Important Tasks

If such tasks aren’t in your job description, ask if you can take one on. Be sure all know you did the work.

Keep Your Antennae Out

Sometimes, despite playing positive politics, someone will want you to look bad. You can’t respond to his machinations unless you know who the perpetrator is.

You Feel You’re Losing the Game?

You have the sense that someone’s sabotaging you. Hopefully, by having kept your antennae out, you know who that person is.

Respond with Strength

If your saboteur tries to put you down, especially in front of others, don’t wimp out. Make a strong response, perhaps using humour. You might say, “Joe, it looks like my idea is putting you to sleep. Either you went to quite a party last night, or you have a better solution. Care to share it?”

Chances are, though, if you play positive politics, you’ll never have to go into attack mode.