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Senior Correspondent

Savvy Maneuvering of Office Politics

Savvy Maneuvering of Office Politics


Your work doesn’t always speak for itself. The most skilled don’t always earn the best promotions. But those skilled at the social game go further than those who aren’t. The higher you go, the more relationships matter.

Here are 12 strategies for navigating office politics:

  1. Don’t talk about your aspirations, do exceptional work. There’s a place to declare aspirations and it’s not with your colleagues.

  2. Discuss your aspirations occasionally with higher-ups, but spend most of your time exceeding their expectations. Use terms like earn when seeking opportunities.

  3. Develop and utilize your skills to the advantage of others. Success at office politics isn’t about intentionally disadvantaging others. Add value rather than seek validation. If your boss feels bad when you ask for something, you’ve taken more out than you put in.

  4. Develop a reputation as a person who helps others and gets things done.

  5. Extend respect to everyone, especially power players, but don’t be a brown noser. Every office has a pecking order. It may be based on expertise, social skill, or longevity. Some are power players in one context and not another.

  6. Ask for help, insight, and suggestions. Succeeding at politics isn’t a one-way street.

  7. Stand up for your values, beliefs, and opinions, when it matters. Irritating jerks have opinions on everything.

  8. Focus on issues, not personalities.

  9. Seek positive solutions even when in a disagreement. Adversarial relationships are roadblocks.

  10. Discuss controversial topics in private.

  11. Imagine everything you say about others will get back to them.

  12. Use social collateral to advantage your team.

Neglect relationship-building to the disadvantage of your team and yourself. Connect with people before trying to get things done through people.

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