12 Strategies for Navigating Office Politics

Your work doesn’t always speak for itself. The most skilled don’t always earn the best promotions.

Think of office politics as connecting for mutual benefit. 

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Those skilled at the social game go further than those who aren’t. The higher you go, the more relationships matter.

12 strategies for navigating office politics:

  1. Don’t talk about your aspirations – do exceptional work. There’s a place to declare aspirations, it’s not with your colleagues.
  2. Discuss your aspirations occassionally with higher-ups, but spend most of your time exceeding expectations. Use terms like “earn” when seeking opportunities.
  3. Develop and utilize your skills for the advantage of others. Success at office politics isn’t about intentionally disadvantaging others. Give more value than you seek. 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. Stick to issues, not personalities.
  9. Seek positive solutions even when you disagree. 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.

It’s essential to deliver great results. It’s naive to neglect relationships.

What tips might you offer for playing office politics?

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