Navigating Office Politics

By Paula Santonocito

smw - navigating office politicsYou love your job. You even love some of the people. But oh the politics.

Workplace politics can be an issue for both women and men. Yet women sometimes have more difficulty dealing with this kind of situation than their male coworkers. And single womencan become especially frustrated by workplace interaction that seems to require altering their approach.

Playing the Game

If you wanted to be a politician, you would have run for office, right? More often than not, this is a woman’s attitude when she gets caught in a political situation at work.

Why do men seem to have an easier time of it in this area?

Where a man realizes he is involved in a game and makes his moves accordingly, a woman tends toward being genuine and seeks to resolve work issues in other ways.

Of course this is a generalization. Be that as it may, it’s a generalization for a reason. Although there are women who play office politics very well, the idea that they have to play these kinds of games at work makes a lot of women uncomfortable.

Talk to women and they say such behavior feels false and it makes them feel dishonest. When they engage in office politics, they believe they are not being true to others or themselves. In addition, there are sometimes ethical issues associated with political situations at work and women worry about crossing the line.

If this weren’t enough, where married women tend to vent about work matters to their husbands and get the game perspective from the guys, single women often have to figure out on their own how and when they should play offense and defense.

Look Before You Leap

So, how can you be true to yourself and still navigate what feels less like a game and more like a minefield?

Start by tapping into one of your strengths: the power of observation.

Although you may think you have to react immediately to a political situation at work, the truth is very few situations demand an on-the-spot response. Instead of shooting from the hip, step back and assess the situation.

Then, once you have figured out what is really going on, consider your options.

These options include participating in the game, remaining involved in the situation albeit at a distance or taking a stand against a situation you find unacceptable.

Deciding Factors

How do you know what the situation requires?