Office politics is an unfortunate workplace reality. It’s a phenomenon that leads us to behave in ways that might not qualify as totally ethical, and it encourages certain co-workers to indulge their inner Faust.
I’m guilty of it to some degree. I calculate people’s likely responses to business proposals in advance, line up allies, and prepare responses and rebuttals for those who are sure to disagree. It’s self-preservational. But it’s directly related to accomplishing what I think is right for the company, regardless of whether it’s right for a particular colleague.
When I landed at a company whose foundational document began with “No politics,” I couldn’t help but be skeptical. Two years into my four-year tenure, the assertion was proven to be meaningless. The CEO himself began enlisting spies to check up on what managers were thinking. Any time someone from outside my group would just drop in to chat, my guard went up.
As difficult as these interpersonal dynamics can be, there’s a more insidious variety that does not involve the workings of the business. It’s the attempt to discover your political leanings outside the company.
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