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Old 14th August 2010, 07:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Beginners guide to Office Politics

Beginners guide to Office Politics
By: Chota Narad

Office politics. Just say the words, and you sense the disdain. Isn't "playing politics" a tool for people who can't get ahead on merit - who pursue their own agenda regardless of what's good for their colleagues or the company? That's the downside of office politics. But what about the upside? Office politics is a lot like "real" politics. Plenty of politicians launch campaigns simply because they relish the privileges of power. But at least some politicians campaign for things that matter to people other than themselves. The same goes for office politics.
"When people talk about office politics, they usually mean something dirty or underhanded," says management professor Allan Cohen, author of Influence Without Authority. "But nobody exists in an atmosphere where everybody agrees. Politics is the art of trying to accomplish things within organizations."

With the services sector gaining the momentum and the cut-throat competition in the industry one thing is clear that the underlying logic of office politics is changing - and opening the door to campaigners who want to get things done rather than do other people in. Workers today compete for schedules and projects, for money and training. But they rarely compete for power - especially when that means power over others. Instead of power, people want assignments that build skills valued by the market. Learning experiences are what's really important.

So throw your hat in the ring! If you've got an idea worth fighting for, don't hire a consultant. ChotaNarad has arrived to the rescue. To paraphrase Plato, that well-known consultant: Those who think they're too smart to engage in politics will be governed by those who are dumber.

Nobody wins unless everybody wins.
Office politics is no different from other aspects of life at the office - or of life in general. Appearances matter. It's usually the best-packaged idea that wins, not the best idea. And the first step toward victory is to position your idea so that your victory is everyone's victory.

Real political skill isn't about campaign tactics it's about pulling people toward your ideas and then pushing those ideas through to other people. In electoral politics, people overestimate the importance of polls and direct mail. What really matters is, Can you make people want to vote for you? The questions in business are, Can you get people to move? Do people trust your instincts? It comes down to personality and positioning.

Success can create opposition.
You pretty well know that. So are you doing something to avoid this. Trust me you cannot. What you can do however is create more supporters for you. The negative energy can only be nullified by a positive energy. I’m not talking about groupism. But you should have a pool of people who are ready to support you and neutralize any opposition you might face.

How do you do that? Again refer to the first point I made. Involve as many people in your success and make them feel it’s their success too.

Well easier said than done. But ChotaNarad will always remain with you in your journey up the corporate ladder. We are not here to create corporate devils. But we want people to take control of things and hit back when required.

You can always reach chotanarad for all your office related worries, on the forum or personally at

wtf added 4 Minutes and 40 Seconds later...

Avoiding Conflict at Work

As you stand to take a plunge into the corporate world away from the comforting company of your friends and well wishers of college days, you may well find yourself dealing with people who are just not your type. And when it comes to working in a team you are bound to face conflicts.We rely on and spend more time with our colleagues than with most other people in our lives: yet we frequently experience conflict at work. In a way it’s obvious and in a way ironical.

Conflict is such a broad term for what can be experienced, ranging from office gossip to outright being physically aggressive. In nearly every single office there are always going to be personality clashes at some point, and most of the time they will be fairly easily sorted out. However,sometimes they aren't and there is often no other option than to resign.

The real problem underlying this situation is that people really don't have the skills to deal with these kinds of situations. They frequently accept the problem when it is happening and then get really upset afterwards. I don’t say that you’ll come out winners every time but the five ways in which you can perhaps come out of the tricky situation are:

1. Avoidance (also can be known as Ignoring (I Lose / You Lose))

This is the most frequently used strategy along with accommodation. Here conflict is avoided by simply refusing to engage in the situation.

Example: Someone making a sly comment and the person it was aimed at simply walks
away. While this obviously is not a good way of dealing with conflict the majority of the time as it tends not to help, it is worth being considered as a strategy for when the conflict is just not worth the effort of being addressed.

2. Accommodation (also can be know as Looking Good (I Lose / You Win))

Here you take the conflict and submit.

Example: Listening to unhelpful criticism and believing it. Again, very frequently used especially where there is low confidence and self-esteem. This is another not very successful method of dealing with conflict, but it will do if you know that there is a solution coming soon.

3. Compete (I Win / You Lose)

This one means that you play the person at his or her own game and work hard to get your own way in the conflict.

Example: Someone starts spreading rumors about you, so you do the same in return in an attempt to discredit the power of the other person's word. This can be very useful when the conflict is mild and you are passionate about your stance, but can lead to a vicious circle as the conflict escalates. Be very sure you want to use this strategy as lowering yourself
to someone else's level rarely shows you in the best light.

4. Compromise (Illusion of I Win / You Win but not in real sense)

It’s more of an adjustment from both the sides....but the pinch is still there. A much more useful tactic to use. Here you don't give in to the conflict, but work out a solution somewhere between the two sides.

Example: Someone delegates a huge amount of work to your already over-filled plate, you respond by taking on some of it, and then recommending that this person parcel out the rest to other people. This is the strategy of choice for most untrained managers as this is how we frequently deal with children in real life - and so it is a behavior we all know about. This can of course lead to the obvious downfall of the actual solution leaving none of the sides happy. This is best to use when the goal is to get past the issue and move on - with the issue having relatively little significance.

5. Collaborate (Actually I Win / You Win)

This is the most effective and correct strategy to follow. You start working on Alternative Options. The most useful tactic, particularly with extremes of conflict such as bullying. The aim here is to focus on working together to arrive at a solution, where both sides have ownership of and commitment to the solution.

Example 1: You and someone else are at completely opposed viewpoints over a project.
You sit down with them and work out why they believe in their point of view, and explain your own. Clever and lateral thinking can provide a solution, which answers both sides, but is not a compromise.

Example 2: Someone is bullying you at work. You talk to this person and collaborate
on modifying his behavior.

Use this strategy when the goal is to meet as many of the current needs as is possible. It’s the most difficult strategy if confidence is low as it involves actually naming the issue to the conflict-creator, which can cause huge anxiety and fear.
To collaborate successfully on an issue such as continuing conflict you need to follow few basic guidelines.

You must recognize that part of the problem is your own fault: you allowed it to happen and did not try to address it to begin with. You can use this aloud and actively take part of the responsibility, as this will put the onus onto the other person to take the other part of the responsibility. Remember that we frequently don't like in others what we don't want to see in ourselves, but find occasionally anyway. Be very sure that you have not committed the same conflict and that you do not in the future.

Manage yourself during the resolution attempt - learn calming strategies if you are hot-tempered or confidence boosters if you are shy. Do not to be emotional, as emotion will only make things escalate.
Don't believe that the best defence is a good offence - that is part of the Competing strategy.

Work the issue, not the person: this means addressing the behavior rather than the entire existence of that person. There is a different level of ownership for behaviors, and people will take less offence if you criticize their behavior than if you criticize them personally.

Never lay blame, as this will only fan the fires. If you are not getting anywhere, ask for further information from the other person about the reasons for their behavior, but don't ask the questions with 'why' at the beginning - if you do this will actively put the other person under the spotlight and they will get defensive.

Remember above all, that people who enjoy creating conflict are ultimately power-seekers who enjoy controlling others. Frequently this is because either they have suffered in a similar way before or feel that they have very little control over their own lives and does anything they can to feel in control. A little compassion will take you a long way both in resolving the situation and in putting it behind you when it is resolved. One of the most important strategies for collaboration is to start "Listening First".

wtf added 5 Minutes and 46 Seconds later...

Living with Office Politics

The most ignored topic in management courses and training sessions is the one that drains most of the energies out of employees and managers—it is office politics. Not many of us are immune to office politics, gossip and the "informal circuit," and individuals who spend eight or ten hours a day in a working group tend to develop a subculture of their own. As part of the subculture there is a need among individuals to be recognised, bonding with peers, and of course looking forward to promotions, kudos and appreciation mails from bosses. Individuals try to stand out from their peers, sometimes using unorthodox means.

Politics, favourism, sucking up to influential people is not something alien to the working climate alone. Most of us get used to it right from school and college days where the "teacher's pet" always bags the higher scores, gets plum assignments, etc, while the school bully gets his way by threat and coercion. The same attitudes are carried to the work environments as individual grow up and join organisations.

Who sufferes most?
It therefore comes as a surprise that a lot of very good techies do not have the stomach for office politics. However, this does not preclude them from being at the receiving end of political games played by colleagues and co-workers. By remaining "geeky" they further alienate themselves from the sub-culture around them. They tend to mistakenly think that by burying their head in work, and consistently producing results they will be recognised. However, this is not really the case because of a number of complex factors. For instance, many people tend to forget that managers and bosses are human too and come with the same moods, idiosyncrasies and quirks as the rest of us. Managers sometimes tend to succumb to the same smooth-talk and salesmanship by employees who are trying to one-up their colleagues.

Different types
Office politics takes different forms. The most common being the rumour mill, a.k.a. cafeteria gossip where talk about impending changes, organisational changes, what someone overheard, etc, are discussed in detail. No topic is out of bounds in a rumour mill and it can range from work-related topics to personal gossip about affairs, delicate issues, problems, etc. Technology has also contributed its bit to the sustenance of gossip circuits in organisations. The practice of forwarding e-mails containing gossip, tidbits on organisational issues or other personal matters is widely prevalent across organisations of all sizes. Sometimes e-mail exchanged in "confidence" between two parties surfaces at inopportune times, causing acute embarrassment or even legal headaches. This is especially true of those exchanging mails about company confidential information, gossip, etc. A recent study conducted by IT research firm Gartner found that at least 34 percent of business e-mails are unnecessary and that 30 percent of the time business users spend managing their e-mail is spent on messages that contain no business value.

Don't be the victim, Be the player
The workplace is a social organisation, even where formal rules for ethics and work are in place. Therefore, it is hard to fight the scourge of gossip and politics. Individuals need to learn to live and work with it. Working with politics and gossip means trying to understand the nuances of dealing with people, learning to snap malicious gossip and actions at the root and of course being a part of the gossip circuit to be keenly aware of the happenings. This cannot happen by just ignoring the presence of politics, but by being keenly aware of it and in some instances, being a part of it. For instance, individuals need to realise that they can be both accountable and make mistakes on their road to success. Learning from these mistakes is far more likely to happen when people help each other out, and do so when they most need it. Individuals can also try to build a culture that values everyone and places them at the heart of the department, and company. One can begin by encouraging open and blame-free debate within the immediate team, draw out everyone's contributions, their hopes, fears and ideas for the future. Some senior managers try to get into such gossip circuits by practicing MBWA (Management by Wandering Around) techniques where they chat with their subordinates informally on all topics and try to get a "gut feel" for the mood of the organisation.
As organisations and workgroups become more international, individuals need to learn the subtleties of cross-cultural communication, especially as the forms of informal communication across cultural and national boundaries may vary. For instance, gossip can take the form of small-talk as one waits for the office elevator, a cup of coffee, etc, or as a filler during project meetings. Such small-talk may contain loaded hints or information that one could observe and use. For instance, if the boss talks about his impending week-long holiday, he is also hinting that there will be an opportunity for someone to fill in his shoes when he is away and is trying to find that temporary replacement. The bottomline is clear. Much as we individually loath office politics and gossip, we need to learn to live with it and maybe benefit from it sometimes.

wtf added 7 Minutes and 26 Seconds later...

Taming the Bullying Boss!

Do you have a boss who is a bully and a tyrant, and makes your life miserable? You are not alone.

But how do you get out of this situation, or rather survive in this situation. Here’s a guide to help you out with the tricks and suggestions for taming your bullying boss.

Bullying at the workplace is one of the most prevalent and least talked of organizational problems.
According to a study by the Employment Law Alliance, almost half of all employees have been targeted by a bully boss. The study also revealed the following:

81 percent of bullies are managers.
50 percent of bullies are women and 50 percent are men.
84 percent of targets are women.
82 percent of targets ultimately lost their job.
95 percent of bullying is witnessed.
If you have a boss who is a bully and a tyrant, and makes your life miserable, the above survey should comfort you somewhat knowing that you are not out there alone. What is surprising is the fact that 50% of the bullies are women - what happened to the nurturing and caring image? But whatever the surveys say, the truth is that most of us have come across such a bully at some point at the workplace; and those who haven't - consider yourself very lucky.

Bullying may include such behavior as withholding important information from you, assigning impossible or unreasonable targets, repeatedly reminding you of your mistakes, ridiculing or humiliating you in connection with your work, spreading rumours or gossip about you, or tarnishing your image through insulting or offensive remarks. In the worst case, an abusive behavior may do a permanent damage on the victim's personality and therefore, it is vital to identify and deal with this problem.

Why are some bosses this way?
Identifying an abusive employee is not too difficult. There are obnoxious bully bosses who rule by intimidation, insist on getting their way and fly off the handle easily. They treat subordinates like children and seldom ask for anyone's input. There are also the constant critics who use put-downs, insults and name-calling. They may use aggressive eye contact to intimidate. Then there are the extremely wily two-headed snakes that pretend to be nice, while all the while trying to sabotage you. And finally, there are the control freaks who ultimately want to control your ability and your image in the company.

A bullying behavior could be prompted by just about anything, from a bad day to sagging earnings to pressure from the upper management. Insecurity may also be a major cause, usually with managers who lack extensive management experience and try to use aggression as a means to assert themselves. Ofcourse, it may be possible that he just doesn't like you, but that is unlikely if his attitude is a widely known fact at your workplace.

According to psychologists, there are broadly two kinds of bullies - the successful, and the unsuccessful. The unsuccessful ones won't really last long in an organization. However, it is the successful kinds that are dangerous. These people are competent and move up the ladder quickly. And this competence gives them the arrogance to harass others around them.

What can you do?
There is no fool-proof method to cope with the bullies, but there certainly are some steps that you must take to deal with these sorts.

Take stock:
Identify the source of the problem. Before outrightly blaming the other person for his behavior, reflect on yourself and your work. Ask yourself if you have done anything to cause the ire. It is possible that you have been not a professional and productive employee for the company. If this is the case, improve yourself - the attitude of the person bullying you will surely improve. However, if this attitude is a result of the manager's personality, then it is time to do something about it.

Stay away:
You would invariably have identified a bully quite early in your acquaintances with him. The best strategy is to stay as far as possible from him. Try to remain in safe spots – near close allies, people who are less likely to be abused. Always display a positive self-image, paying close attention to your appearance and clothes. Try not to reveal too much information about your life, spouse, and children to the abuser. Personal information would give him a power over you. Excuse yourself if you are in a bullying situation – tell him you are late for an appointment, for instance. Most importantly, if you are building a case against him, do not reveal your case to anybody – news travels fast at the workplace.

Don't suffer silently:
If you do end up getting bullied, you must never silently suffer the abuse. You don't have to declare an open war - remember, he still is your boss and holds power over your job. But angry personal confrontations are never the solution. Talking things out in a professional manner may help sort things out. Schedule a private meeting and enumerate instances of his behavior that upset you. However, it is important to do so without making any kind of accusations, otherwise you run the risk of further instigating him. This risk is something you will need to take – based on your judgment of the situation; based on a familiarity with the kind of person you are dealing with.

If this doesn’t work out, talk to the HR department in your company. But one caveat – the HR’s allegiance is to the employer, not the employee. Approach the HR with caution, and only when you are fully prepared.

Bring in the personal touch:
It is very important to tell the boss how you feel. There may be instances when the bullying behavior is not conscious and he may have a realization. Tell him all this through instances of how you felt, a body language that complements your comments, direct eye contact, and disarming statements like "I would be grateful if you did not do ...", or "I was disappointed when you ...” No matter how hurt or angry you are, courtesy is essential. Using a little humor is not a bad idea either.

Know when to quit:
Everybody has limits. And these should not be crossed. If you have an abusive manager, the situation may get out of hand if your personal life starts suffering. There may be a negative impact on your health – high-blood pressures are not unheard of; your self–esteem may suffer or you may start feeling sick at the mere thought of going to the office. Do try repairing the situation once; but if things don’t improve even then, it is time to consider sending out your resume and putting down your papers.

A bully is like a parasite that draws strength from its prey. Stop being the prey, and he will have nothing to prey upon. A boss will stop abusing you if he realizes that he does not hold any power over you. Take charge of your professional life, and never let anyone hurt your self-esteem.

wtf added 8 Minutes and 45 Seconds later...

Dealing with a short tempered boss?

Dealing with a short-tempered boss?

How will you react if you meet a short tempered person in a train who loses his temper on you? You will probably shout back. How dare he shout on you? You are nobody's slave and who gave him the right to speak to you like that?

Now let us change the situation a bit and ask the same question. How will you react when your boss shouts at you? When he is not ready to give leave to you and holds you responsible for things you have not done? When he creates an issue out of every small mistake you commit? To add to your bad luck he is also a very powerful person. This time you will probably keep quiet. You will worry about your appraisal, your job, and your position and will bear everything.

Why two different reactions on a similar attitude? We often feel helpless in front of the wrongdoings of a higher authority. Have we ever thought why we do this and where it will lead us to?

A good career is undoubtedly an important ambition of life but often we give undue importance to the role others have in achieving it. We often unreasonably exaggerate the bad which an individual can do to us and keep tolerating his officious demeanor. Let us explore what we can do in such situations.

Talk to your boss directly

Tell your boss that your productivity is affected when you are not treated with respect.

Sometimes there are some misunderstandings which can also be removed by communication. Your boss will tell you his perspective and you will convey your concern. Who knows situation might improve? What if it does not?

Talk to a higher authority or to a person at a similar position as your boss has

Explain him your situation. Tell him you have tried to sought out the matter on your own but have not received any co-operation from the other side. You will be surprised to learn how supportive the higher authority might be. Things are not as bad as we think they are.

You can ask for a team change. If you make senior people aware about your problem chances are that your boss might come under pressure and starts behaving nicely with you. In the worst case if he continues being harsh to you and gives you a bad appraisal or a bad rating other senior members will be aware about his bias against you. This way you have a good chance to question your rating.

Escalate the matter to HR

If things still don’t work out you can request the intervention of HR. Although external help should be avoided sometimes it is the last resort.

If you are avoiding any action to prevent any conflict remember that you are ignoring the conflict that goes on in your heart as you face this situation each day. Don’t forget we earn to live a happy life and no person on earth whether he is that short tempered person in the train or your short tempered boss in the office has the right to treat you badly.


Last edited by wtf; 14th August 2010 at 07:37 PM. Reason: Post Bumping
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