How To Play Office Politics In The Workplace: You Have To Play The Game To Survive...


How to play Office Politics in the Workplace: you have to play the game to survive.....

You maybe in your teenage years and don't yet know about the big corporate world that lies ahead of you. Your biggest work experience so far might be McDonalds or AMC Movie Theatre. Eventually one day, you will reach that age where you'll enter the corporate world, and office politics will rear its ugly head. Fear not, my child, office politics isn't by definition, gossip or backstabbing. Office Politics instead is, learning how to assimilate with the corporate culture you find yourself in, being tactful and diplomatic, making your accomplishments visible without bragging, having a crowd mentality with your peers while standing out, networking with key players in the organization and adhering to office ettiquette.

Here is knowledge I've garnered with many years in the corporate environment and I want to bring this to this community so all of you can use them as a guideline for when you graduate and get an actual career. (Or if you already have a career)

Note, the following info is for like a real corporate environment, think white collar job with casual fridays, company happy hours, companies that cater in food every now and then, companies that pay in salary with full benefits, office or cubicle jobs, co workers that are in their mid-20s all the way up into their 50s, co workers that all have bachelor's degree, companies that have fun committees with company paid for outtings or Christmas parties, companies that raffle off white sox tickets or iPads for employee of the month, type politics do exist virtually everywhere in varying degree.

Rule number 1: Dress professionally

Seems pretty straightforward but it really isn't. There is a deeper reason for why I say this. In the corporate world, appearences are everything. You can do the same amount of work as the guy next to you in a hoodie and khakis, but you'll be perceived as the harder worker by dressing more professionally and keeping your wardrobe stylish and up-to-date.

Rule number 2: Avoid office romance and flirting

There are several types of companies: Companies that allow dating but only with people of your rank, companies that don't allow dating at all, and companies that frown on inter-office romance, and all three may or may not mention this in their employee handbook. Implicitly stated or explicitly stated to date or not, you want to avoid office romance altogether because even if things do work out, things can get awkward. If things don't work out, they will get awkward...if you're a guy and you flirt with a girl who doesn't like you, things can get taken out of context and she may bring up to a superior that you made her feel uncomfortable, next thing you know, you're being pulled into the manager office with sexual harrassment on your hands because most likely it's her word against yours. It's best to maintain corporate professionalism with the opposite sex as much as possible.

Rule number 3: Don't join in on the gossip

It's a common known fact that the kitchen, office cafeteria, break room and smoking area are the places people let down their formalities and let their tongues run loose, but guess what, everything you say has a way of going viral around the office...even that kind of blah comment you made about a co-worker to another co-worker can come back to haunt you. People will act agreeable and friendly to everything you say about someone else, then turn around and say what you said to the person you were talking about. You don't exactly know which co-workers are allies, so it's best to not only walk away from gossip, but to avoid gossiping yourself.

Rule number 4: Don't add your co-workers on social media, and for fuck's sake not your boss!

Yes, it is easy to find and add co-workers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram...some may even add you back. Some may add you back and then act a little weird around you at work the next day. You don't want to add people from your work-place on social media because you don't want to mix your personal life with your work life. If you do want to add co-workers, or must add them, make sure these people are trustworthy, even-keel folks that are likeable company wallflowers. Actually, if you must add on social media, stick with LinkedIn only. However, don't EVER add your boss on social media, I don't care how cool he or she is, the minute you do...everything gets awkward.

Rule number 5: The IT Department moniters everything...browse at your own risk

Yes, you have high speed internet access on your work computer or company provided laptop you get to take home with you every night. But guess what, going into incognito mode isn't going to prevent your company from knowing what your browsing habits are. Some companies block access to porn or social media sites, otherwise don't, which can make it very tempting. You go on Ashley Madison, Girls Ask Guys, OkCupid, or any porn site and next thing you know...the operations team has a internet browsing log print out from the IT Department on every site you visited, when and where. Also, if your work has an instant messaging system (for you to be able to instant message your co-workers) you best believe everything you message your co-workers about is monitered. People do get fired for not possessing tact when talking on an instant messaging platform to co-workers for what they thought was a private conversation.

Rule number 6: No-one gives a shit about your personal life

When people ask you how your weekend was, this is how you respond "It was good, I spent some time with my family and I went to the city to hang out with some friends, how was yours?"

This is not how your respond "It was good, I spent time with my family, then I went to the city to hang out with some friends, I met this girl named Brittney and we really hit it off, I ended up banging her at her apartment and all day she's been texting me. I don't know if she's just a hook up or what, but check this text message out that she sent me and tell me what you think. I may bring her to the company outting next weekend, her friend is a anyways when we got drunk on Saturday we were at this club called........."

You see how the first is non-descript and the next isn't? The more you talk about your personal life, the more chances you give for people forming opinions of you, getting offended or rehashing what you say to others.

Rule number 7: Keep a low profile with Upper Management

You'll eventually figure out whose the Director of Operations, the CEO, The Senior Manager on and so forth. Some maybe friendly and they may smile at you and make eye contact. Others will most likely walk around from time to time and never make eye contact at all. The higher up they are, the less you'll see them, and the higher up they are, the less eye contact they make. It's best to match their demeanor. If they say hi, you say hi, if they don't make eye contact, nor should you. If your eyes meet, do a quick nod and a quick smile and mosey along. If they are on the elevator with you, say hello and keep your mouth shut. If they ask you how you're doing keep it simple. Essentially, the more you say, the more you show up on their radar and that can be bad news. If asked how things are going, here is how you respond: "everything is going great, it's been busy, but I like being busy" and then keep your fucking mouth shut.

How To Play Office Politics In The Workplace: You Have To Play The Game To Survive...

Rule number 8: Never go past your direct supervisor or manager and talk to your boss's boss

Unless of course, you have a very specific question that you know for sure your boss can't answer. But regarding the job or problems you're having with your job, ideas or suggestions you have that can improve or streamline company operations, so on and so forth...should all be directed at your direct manager. By tossing around ideas or suggestions on what you feel would make your company better to your boss's boss, or your boss's boss's will most likely come across as a conniving employee who doesn't understand corporate hierarchy. The best example of this was in the show Dexter, season 1, when Officer Morgan goes beyond her boss (Captain Maria LaGuerta) to suggest an idea about some murder to her boss's boss. Her boss's boss immediately scolds her for going behind her boss's back despite liking the idea.

Rule number 9: Never preach too much change for how things should be done

You got it, you're a super genius that figured out a way to improve customer retention, decrease downtime for Customer Support, increase company revenue by 800 percent with a simple change in branding, etc. However, even if you're right, by going around tooting your own horn, you make people around you feel incompetent, make them feel like you look down on them, and your blatant disregard for the status quo could mean you get fired. When it comes to ideas and suggestions, it's best to keep them to yourself, only offering your ideas and suggestions in an off-hand manner if asked for it, and to simply follow the herd with how things are done. But how do you stand out from your peers you say? Ask your direct managers for extra projects outside your role, start networking with other departments and ask them how things are done and then relay that information back to your boss and somehow tie that in with your job, offer to lend a hand to your co-workers, speak up during company meetings when management is open to ideas. This leads me to my next point....

Rule number 10: Insinuate ideas and suggestions to management and never outshine your boss

Outshining your boss means calling out his mistake in front of others or coming across as more intelligent or talented than he is. For instance, on a Powerpoint presentation in front of everyone, there is some clear mistake and you correct your boss on in front of your peers...bad news...even if it doesn't seem like a big deal, but do it in private. You must make your boss feel more intelligent and more talented than you are, even if he isn' order to get promoted further down the road. As far as ideas and suggestions, insinuate them into the head of your boss, make your boss feel as if the ideas or suggestions you have for the company are his and not your own. If you yield to your superiors and possess incredible tact and ettiquete, you'll get promoted by your boss, but you won't get promoted if your boss feels threatened by you in any way.

How To Play Office Politics In The Workplace: You Have To Play The Game To Survive...

Rule number 11: Don't be so quick to rush out the door right when your work day ends

It's 5:00 and your work shift ended, I get it, you want to rush out the door and beat rush hour traffic, maybe you got somewhere to be. But do this consistenly and you'll be perceived as someone that just does the bare minimum in a given day. What you want to do is hang around for a bit after 5. Pretend like you're wrapping something up here and there and casually get up at 5:04 to leave. By doing this, you come across as the person that'll put in the last minute or two to polish up whatever work you were doing. Furthermore, you also want to arrive at work 5 to 10 minutes early and you some times want to work through part of your lunch period. Whatever makes people perceive like you go the extra it.

Rule number 12: Holding the elevator door for others and refilling coffee goes a long way

Don't develop the reputation as the guy who takes the last cup of coffee and then doesn't brew the next batch. People will notice. You want to go the extra mile and wipe down the kitchen counter, restack the coffee stires, napkins and refill the coffee. Of course, you aren't a janitor, but taking the time to be mindful of others from time to time can go a long way. See someone step into an elevator after you? Ask them what floor and push the button, hold the door open for everybody behind you as you're leaving work, these tiny things, will add up over time.

Rule number 13: Never brag about your accomplishments but make them visible

Here is an example of bragging versus letting others read between the lines

"I'm good a lot of things, one thing I am good at is football, I made it on the high school varsity team as a Sophmore"

"The time you fell down and twisted your ankle reminds me of the time when one of my team mates on our high school football varsity team fell down and got hurt. I was the youngest guy on the team, but my coach told me to carry him off the field, and this guy is two years older then me but it felt great to help someone"

You see how the first is straight up bragging and in the other, you say the same thing without saying it and only bring it up because you're weaving it into a conversation? This is an analogy of how you bring up your work place accomplishments to your boss.

Rule number 14: Don't make excuses when you're at fault

Came late one day? And your boss reprimanded you for it? Don't make excuses because it will make matters worse. Just say "Sorry about that, won't let it happen again, I'll stay a little after to make up for it" ....problem solved.

Rule number 15: Don't leave a paper trail and other Email ettiquette

Did a co-worker send you a nasy email or message? Your best bet is to hold off for some time before responding, by doing so, you reduce the risk of writing back in haste. Also, you don't want to leave any electronic paper trails of anything that can be later used against you. It's best to be non-confrontational, avoid trying to always prove you are right even if you are, and talk things out in private. Also, with emails, make sure you don't hit "reply all" because when replying to a message someone sends you, by hitting "reply all" you're entire company can get it, and depending on what you say, it could be career suicided.

Rule number 16: keep your resume up-to-date with new skills and talk to HR about promotions

Update your skills by learning new things and update your resume. Forward your resume to your boss and ask him what he things of your new skills. But when it comes to promotions or asking for salary raises, go to Human Resources for advice on what's available. Most likely, HR is unbiased unlike your boss or management. HR knows everyone's story, they know whose on a work permit, whose a US Citizen, who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc. but they never go around telling people these things because HR is HR, HR is your counselor for anything regarding positions, salary, benefits, time off, etc and regarding anything of this nature...take it up with them, not your boss.

Rule number 17: Don't pig out or get too drunk at company outings

It seems like a no-brainer but you'll be surprised at how many people get major drunk at company parties when the alcohol flows freely. Alcohol is there to get you to loosen up a bit, so one to two drinks max. It's no excuse to get majorly wasted. Just because you are not at the office and it's not office hours doesn't mean you're not at your work place. Also, just because they have a buffet doesn't mean you have to go and pig out with several plates of food. You will be seen as a tactless glutton if you do, so be mindful of how much you eat.

How To Play Office Politics In The Workplace: You Have To Play The Game To Survive...

And that's all I have, got anything to add, add it below.

How To Play Office Politics In The Workplace: You Have To Play The Game To Survive...
Add Opinion

Most Helpful Guy

  • Tarvold

    This is the biggest ton of shit I've read. None of it actually helps.

    Here's the real list:

    1.) Cookies are for closers! If you are the company's rain maker, you can do no wrong.

    2.) Keep dirt on everyone, but don't leak anything without a strategy. Having dirt on other people is just good corporate self defense.

    3.) Keep written records of everything. Email is your friend.

    4.) Never agree or commit to anything verbally. See #3.

    5.) Don't stay sober at office parties. You'll be labeled as a killjoy and untrustworthy. The trick is to let your bosses get drunk first, so then you become someone they can hang with and trust.

    6.) Nothing trumps rule #1.
    Is this still revelant?
    • What's so bullshit about it? 1. What the fuck is a cookie? 2.) Nowhere in the article does it say not to keep dirt on everyone 3.) written records of what? You're not being specific, the article simply states, be careful how you write an email and if you have something to say that could haunt you, you better not leave a paper trail 5.) article doesn't state anything about being sober, it states when you are at a company party not to over drink and make an ass of yourself, so what is bs about this article?

    • Tarvold

      My post was self explanatory. If you don't get it, you won't survive in senior management, and there's no point explaining it any further.

      Good luck.

    • bitch ass, I am in senior management and have been for over 7 years

    • Show All

Most Helpful Girl

  • Curious_Jane
    Great advice. I just need to add that not all corporate jobs need a bachelor's degree. Where I work, most employees has master's degree if not PHDs either in statistics or software engineering. :)
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • BigJake
    Nah, that's not great advice at all. This list should be titled "How to remain anonymous in your place of business." While anonymity can be beneficial at times, ultimately it will lead you down a dead-end road. There's no way to work in an office for years without offending someone or stepping over a line. As the axiom holds, "To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."
    • This coming from a 23 year old... I've been in a corporate environment for over 10 years at many different companies in many different industries, I'm writing from experience and from research

  • SakuraCherryBlossoms
    I think that's all really solid advice! But... do you have people at your job that barely do anything and slack but get promoted? I've heard of that, but I don't know why it happens.
    • dartmaul15

      it's called "bootlicking". They follow this list, when the boss is around. they make the boss like them. And it's a well known fact that being best buds with the boss gets you a fee pass on promotions.

      Usually mostly prevalent with an unprofessional boss, but can happen in all workplaces.

  • AsianFlower
    Would you message me? I have a question about something you wrote.
  • Jersey2
    All good advice. And I say this having been in the corporate world for a while. But HR won't he the one who gets you a promotion, it is your boss's boss and your boss.
    • Yes, but you also don't want to be going up to your boss's boss boss with a long list of what makes you smarter than them, in some situations, a promotion could mean even REPLACING your boss, so why would you want to see your boss about that? This article is about using the tips to your discretion and to your companies specific corporate environment... at the end, HR is unbiased most of the time and typically help you understand job openings, how you should apply and what you need to know whereas your boss's bias can prevent you from climbing up if it affects his or her's livelihood

    • Jersey2

      I speak as an executive in the Fortune 100, HR won't help you with those kind of roles and that isn't how it is done for the bigger jobs.

    • HR is a go to place to find out where certain job opening are in your company but of course you shouldn't lick HR bung hole for a promotion. They are simply resource people and not necessarily there to give you leverage but it's good to know what's there your company so you can prep for it, HR can also give you the correct contact for certain job openings, and that contact in that department is someone you can later contact with, all im saying

    • Show All
  • ConsultantIsBack
    Great list, however I disagree about not interacting with upper management. Granted, with the nature of my job as a management consultant, it is incredibly important to get support and gain a strong rapport with executives.

    Interacting with executives increases your professional presence that comes in handy for opportunities and promotions down the road.

    The quiet workhorse doesn't become the Senior VP, because he/she lacks or appears to lack the leadership and communication skills necessary.
  • SunsetRose
    Thanks for the advice! These all seem pretty solid
  • HeWhoPonders
    This makes work seem like feudal japan.
  • Anonymous
    Get in good with management and you can do what you want