10 Ways to Avoid Office Politics

How to Keep a Low Profile & Stay Out of Office Gutter Politics

Office Politics? Proceed with Caution

We recently ran an article about why it’s imperative for successful employees to engage in office politics. But as in the case everywhere, reasonable people will disagree. And that includes the writers at Salary.com. So here’s the flip side of the office politics coin.

Office politics occur in most workplaces. When employees spend hours per day together and vie for the same promotions and raises, competition is inevitable. Some people claim office politics are an essential part of the workplace, but others see it as a needless and potentially lethal part of office culture that kills morale and strains relationships.

So what can you do to prevent your career and personal life from being damaged by rampant office politics and gossip?

10. Think Back to High School

In some respects, workplaces are a lot like high school. The same principles usually apply. People have cliques, and these factor into success — but if you make a misstep, you may find your reputation easily tarnished.

When you run into trouble with gossip and office politics, think about it from the perspective of an adult giving advice to a high school student. What would you say to your high school self?

9. What They Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You

It’s great to have genuinely close friends with whom you also work. But if, like most people, you’re not that lucky, it might be best if your coworkers know enough about you to be able to have a friendly conversation, but not so much that any information they have could hinder your advancement. While socializing outside of work can help you advance your career, be careful — one too many drinks and your coworkers have some dirt on you.

Consider implementing a “work friends” privacy setting on your Facebook page if you’d like to friend your coworkers on social networks.

8. Communicate with Your Boss

Are you hoping to land a raise or promotion? Don’t let your boss find out about it through the grapevine. Most managers are busy — they want problem-solvers. You can make a decision easier for your boss by letting him/her know you’re interested in advancing. Your boss might also give you tips for improvement or steps you need to take to get promoted.

7. Don’t Gossip

Gossip is the easiest way to get in trouble or look immature. Nothing says “I’m not ready for a promotion” as much as trash talk. While it’s okay to socialize, you should know this by now: everything you say will come back to get you, especially when someone else can benefit from it.

6. Stay Informed

There’s a fine line between gossip and staying informed. So while you should avoid the trashy office talk, it’s still helpful to pay attention to what others say. This will prevent you from becoming ostracized. While gossips’ information isn’t necessarily reliable, you might be able to pick up on clues about upcoming promotions or major changes, such as corporate restructuring, store closures, or outsourcing.

5. Choose Your Friends Carefully

Work would become seriously intolerable without some social interaction. If you choose to socialize at work, make sure you choose your friends carefully. If someone is saying negative things about others all the time, consider becoming friends with a different coworker.

Who you befriend at work may also influence the decisions your boss makes. If you’re known to hang out with employees who don’t complete work efficiently, that may reflect poorly upon you.

4. Identify Backstabbers

As soon as you start socializing at a new job, it’s essential to identify the gossip-mongers and backstabbers. These coworkers may want to take you under their wings initially, but such “friendship” comes at a price. Hold out for a better friend — one who won’t talk negatively about you when it’s time for promotions, reviews, or layoffs.

3. Think Long-Term

It can be frustrating when you find out someone has been spreading gossip about you at work. Revenge is sweet, but you have to think about the long term.

Take the high road. You’ll be better for it in the end.

2. Don’t Vent at Work

While it can help to have a support network at work, too much complaining will leave a negative impression, especially if you complain about work.

If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly or if you find a work-related issue, bring it up with your boss. The best way to get recognition for your efforts is to ask for it.

1. They’re Watching You

We’re not trying to induce paranoia, but when you’re at work you should assume you’re being watched and that everything is a test.

Some people play games to see whether others are worthy of being trusted. Whether management trusts you with a juicy piece of gossip or a project, make no mistake: it’s a test. Your performance could determine your future at the company.

Related Salary.com Content