OFFICE POLITICS: Definition, Importance, and How to Master It

office politics
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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “office politics?” Is it all about “sucking up” to the proper people, “backstabbing,” and spreading damaging rumors? If that’s the case, you should probably keep your distance! But whether you enjoy it or not, office politics are an inevitable part of working in any group. You may raise awareness for yourself and your organization’s mission without sacrificing your principles. Using “good” examples of politics, you can promote your own interests and the interests of your team in a fair and reasonable way. In addition, being aware of the “negative” politics going on around you can help you escape unnecessary hardship while others profit from your ignorance. In this article, we will talk about how to master office politics, how it affects the workplace, and the importance of office policies

What Is Office Politics?

Politics at the office can be found in almost any company. These are the actions people take to advance themselves socially and politically, often at the expense of others. An unfavorable perception attached to office politics may stem from such unofficial, self-serving activities. However, there are benefits to engaging in what is often known as “office politics.” Getting involved in office politics might seem like a natural way to grow your professional network and strengthen relationships with key stakeholders.

The truth is that if you want to make it in the corporate world, you should learn how to navigate politics effectively. Mastering the art of office politics can protect you from being taken advantage of and open doors for professional growth. If we don’t work on improving these areas, we can fall behind in the profession. The point is not to become a political animal, but to keep an eye on the power dynamics at your office.

Office Politics Examples 

Let’s look at some real-world examples to see how workplace politics can manifest themselves:

#1. Overachieving

It seems that certain people are always more productive than others. Sometimes they’re just trying to do the best they can, and other times they’re trying to get ahead of everyone else and do as much as they can.

#2. Mimicking

The powerful attracts the allegiance of some. To appear on par with those in higher positions, one must act similarly to them. Additionally, they are capable of performing the same task as their superiors and share their beliefs and ideals. The goal is to create the illusion of equality in the workplace by appearing to be on the same rung of the corporate food chain.

#3. Task or Order Delegation

It’s political when someone always hands out assignments or commands to others, even though they don’t have more expertise or rank in the company. Could you print this for me, please? To ask for assistance: “May I count on you?” It might not be a major thing if it’s done sometimes, but it could become problematic if it’s done on a regular basis. Just because someone issues an order doesn’t mean they’re right or that those they’re ordering around are under their control.

#4. Neglecting

A useful weapon in office politics is the ability to ignore people. For instance, if you don’t include someone in a group welcome but include everyone else, you’re sending the message that they’re not part of this company’s group.

#5. Applauding

Certain individuals are always following the lead of their managers, whether it be laughing at their lame jokes, applauding them, or anything else. The goal is to gain favor in the eyes of their superiors in this situation.

These are only a few examples of office politics; there are plenty more instances of political activity in the office all around you. It is entirely up to you to decide whether you will take action over this matter. Nevertheless, it is always to your advantage to recognize those actions and be aware when someone else is playing that game around you.

How Office Politics Affect the Workplace 

Office politics affect everyone, regardless of their level of seniority in the company. They cannot be avoided.

The very idea could scare you. However, if you know how to play office politics, you can keep some of your own influence while climbing the corporate ladder. all while enhancing your knowledge of the framework in which you operate.  

Office politics can cause tension, unhappiness, and low morale, which are all bad things. On the other hand, it can boost productivity and morale, which are both good things. The truth is that the way the office uses the strategy determines whether the results are good or bad. Some common negative effects of office politics include:

  1. Reduction in productivity: When employees become preoccupied with office politics, they tend to pay less attention to their actual jobs.
  2. A high rate of employee turnover: When good employees leave due to frustration with office politics, the company risks losing valuable expertise and a skilled workforce.
  3. Misunderstanding: Office politics is rife with manipulation, which in turn leads to a breakdown in communication between superiors and subordinates and between management and the rest of the workforce.
  4. The stress level rises: As a result of worrying about their future and/or losing their jobs, employees face a great deal of stress.
  5. Demotivates employees: Employees lose motivation when they witness unworthy coworkers gaining perks or being dragged into bad workplace activities.

How Can We Avoid Negative Politics in Office? 

When leaders use their positions for personal gain, bad office politics ensue. Unfortunately, office politics often lead to backstabbing, gaslighting, and unhealthy groups of people who only hang out with other people who think the same way as them.

Sadly, many influential individuals abuse their status by intimidating or coercing others under them. The atmosphere at work becomes poisoned as a result of this.

Knowing how to spot and prevent toxic office politics is crucial. So, you’ll be able to make a stronger name for yourself in your professional world. You’ll be able to lend a hand to others in need as well. Here are some tips on how we can avoid negative politics in the office.

#1. Maintain Your Attention on Team Aims and Objectives

A large part of productive office politics involves working together as a team.

Maintain an atmosphere that fosters teamwork and enthusiasm for the company’s mission. With this method, you may be able to boost morale at work and get rid of bad dynamics at the same time.

Paying attention to the here and now has its uses. But getting people to focus on the long term will spark greater team spirit. So, it’s possible that this would lead to less needless fighting.

#2. Applaud Those Who Deserve It

Favoritism is a risky game to play at work. When workers believe they are being ignored, envy quickly spreads throughout the workplace. Employees in any workplace are less likely to respect their superiors if they see that they are being treated fairly.

Reward systems that encourage productivity are highly effective. However, people in positions of authority who may dole out rewards should be careful not to let their own biases or feelings cloud their judgment.

Leaders should have clear rules about when and how to give rewards, and they should try to praise as many of their employees as possible.

#3. Learn to Navigate Your Informal Network

To fully understand informal or social networks, you must first figure out where the power and influence lie.

Keep an eye out (but while being respectful and covert) to see who gets along with whom and who has a harder time interacting with others. Do some investigating to find out who the cool kids and the nerds are. Take note of the underlying motivations behind the relationships you maintain. At last, you should try to figure out how power is distributed, if there are any instances of bullying, and what role each party plays.

#4. Foster Constructive, Honest Dialogue

A key component of productive office politics is encouraging open lines of communication. If everyone is to believe they are being treated fairly and with respect, lines of communication must be open and unimpeded.

Effective dialogue prevents the spread of false information. Conflict is less likely to develop as a result of this. Collaboration flourishes when there is an open dialogue between coworkers. This helps strengthen existing relationships and foster new ones among workers.

#5. Establish Relationships

Now that you know how existing relationships work, you can start building your own social network.

Think about reaching out to people outside of your immediate team, like peers, bosses, and higher-ups. You shouldn’t be terrified of individuals in positions of authority. Instead of using empty flattery, get to know them and create genuine relationships.

Engage in pleasant conversation with everyone, but don’t associate yourself too closely with any one group. Furthermore, if you’re thinking about having a romantic relationship at work, you should always act ethically, never break confidentiality, and base your relationship on mutual consent.

What Is the Purpose of Office Politics?

Office politics happen when people try to get ahead by saying bad things about their coworkers. People who get involved in office politics are less likely to pay attention to the tasks they need to do. Office politics, however, is when employees use their power for selfish reasons, like getting the attention of management and higher-level employees.

Politics contributes to office hostility and criticism but produces nothing of value. Here is the purpose of office politics:

#1. Personal Relationships

Politics in the office can also stem from employees’ personal interactions with one another. Politics emerges when people go to great lengths to support their coworkers, friends, and family. Bringing work home is a recipe for disaster. Even if a colleague is also your best friend, you still have to treat him professionally like you would any other employee. Nobody should offer him special attention.

Carmen, a childhood friend, was always there to support one of her teammates, Isabel. Maria spared no detail in her criticism of her colleagues. The fact that Carmen had spent so much of her childhood with Isabel made her a devoted fan of the latter. As a matter of fact, they showed up at the office together.

#2. Motivational Structures

Companies often provide some sort of incentive program to motivate workers to go above and beyond. Depending on the company, this may take the form of a raise, a car, or even a promotion. However, this strategy can backfire if the competition is not healthy. It’s possible that some employees will play politics within the company to make sure that they get the reward and not their colleagues.

#3. Lack of Trust

To succeed in a group setting, trusting your colleagues is crucial. It’s possible a colleague will confide in you, but that doesn’t mean you should go running to the supervisor with the details. You have no right to hurt someone if you can’t help them. Remember that in the long term, it’s trust and personal relationships that assist. 

In some cases, your colleague may even become your closest friend. If you have the ability, your hard work will never go unappreciated. Keep in mind that there is no easy way to achieve your goals.

#4. Lack Of Clarity

Misunderstanding and confusion are common causes of office politics. A rumor mill will operate at maximum capacity when there is room for interpretation. Politics in the office arises from false accusations, faulty assumptions, and perceptions of unfairness.

#5. Lack of Adaptability

There will always be shifts in how a company operates. But some of us are better than others at changing how we act when things change. As a result, office politics can arise when there are winners and losers.

#6. Politics Helps People Get Fame Without Much Work

Some people hold public office simply because they think it looks good on their resumes, rather than because they have any intention of actually doing the work required of them. It’s unfortunate that these people have to rely on dirty politics to survive. They go to great lengths to discredit their colleagues in order to gain favor with upper management.

How Do You Master Office Politics?

You won’t get very far in your career if you don’t know how to play office politics and use other politically smart strategies.

After all, it’s impossible for anything else to happen. People are the essence of politics. Office politics is a part of every workplace because it includes all interactions between people in a hierarchically structured organization.

Office politics is essential for getting things done for the larger good and for your personal career growth because people are in charge of strategic decisions and promotions and demotions. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to use office politics for the greater good or for your own personal career success. Here are tips on how to master office politics:

#1. Study the Dynamics of Authority

Understanding power relations requires a high level of social sophistication.

The good news is that understanding the power dynamics won’t take long if you’ve mastered the fundamentals of social interaction.

When interacting with others, it is important to keep in mind the power dynamics at play, such as “one-down” and “one-up” relationships, the ability to influence and persuade, the presence or absence of emotional authority (soft power), and the best ways to project an image of strength, authority, and respectability.

#2. Acquire Some Polite Etiquette

People are the essence of politics. And you need at least some elementary people skills to get along with others.

People who don’t have even the most basic social skills are doomed to fail at office politics and will probably start to dislike it. They are harmed by their own lack of political savvy.

There is only a slight relationship between political harakiri and success in the workplace or IQ. Top performers can sometimes be harmed by their lack of political knowledge. A company’s top performer may do an excellent job, rising fast in the ranks, but ultimately be fired for “outshining the master.”

You need a certain level of social acumen to master office politics successfully.

#3. Get to Know the Important People

As a result of this, you have acquired knowledge in the fields of psychology and  interpersonal skills

But you may be wondering who it is worth networking with, who you should stay away from, and who might be able to give you opportunities that can help your career a lot. As a result, this is the next logical step. You need to have a firm grasp on who the influential people in your life are. The organizational chart serves as a strong foundation, but it should be modified to fit your needs.

At the bottom of a large organization, the chief executive officer (CEO) may as well be a complete stranger. Depending on your rank and seniority, the most senior person you’ll likely be able to socialize with at work is probably your boss. Even if he isn’t staying in his position for long, your boss is usually the most crucial piece on the board. Also, read OFFICE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: Best Free and Paid Options In 2022.

#4. Learn Skillful Methods of Self-Promotion

To promote yourself well, you need to talk to influential people who can help you advance in your career and spread the word about your skills and accomplishments.

You can network your way into meeting influential individuals face-to-face, or you can rely on your good name and the recommendations of your friends and acquaintances. In addition, self-promotion may be an “art,” but science and reason can help you do it better. This is the best strategy to master office politics.

What Is the Importance of Office Policies?

Human resources practices at successful companies aren’t seen as a mere formality. Instead, they agree that these basic things set the limits and standards for how their company works.

Without well-thought-out office policies, there can be no order. Regrettably, in the absence of clear rules, employees tend to devise their own. In light of this, it’s clear that office policies are essential to the smooth running of any business. Here is the importance of office policies:

#1. It Fosters Cooperation

Companies have to adhere to the rules, regulations, standards, and best practices that are unique to their sector. In addition to the foregoing, having well-established policies in the workplace will aid your company in meeting the requirements of any applicable international, national, state, or municipal laws or regulations.

Organizations, and the HR department in particular, need to regularly assess the state of the compliance environment to ensure that they are in fact complying. In this setting, office policies must be regularly reviewed and revised to account for shifting legal requirements and best practices in the industry.

Employees benefit from having a clear understanding of the company’s expectations of them in all areas of their work, and businesses benefit from having a framework in place to limit their legal exposure in the event of workplace disruptions.

#2. Assist You in Handling Difficult Situations

The importance of office policies can prevent workplace events if the necessary safety procedures are in place if or when an incident happens.

They safeguard companies from missing incidents, which could otherwise develop into a crisis. External crises can be harder to predict and handle than internal problems that happen at work and might stop things from running as usual.

Examples of crises include natural disasters, defective products, virus attacks, and legal cases. Social media and communication plans, as well as detailed customer service policies and procedures, can help mitigate the impact of a crisis on your company.

#3. Facilitate Consistent Methods and Organization

The absence of office policies would lead to total anarchy in operations. Companies depend on their employees to adhere to set norms and practices.

Organizations work the way they are supposed to, and any mistakes or problems are easy to find and fix. When employees adhere to company standards and processes, your company will be able to make better use of its time and resources. You may then put your company’s resources where they belong: toward growth and the attainment of its objectives.

As a result of reading the company’s office policies, workers gain a better understanding of the importance of their roles and responsibilities, as well as the behavior and treatment they can expect from their superiors and peers on the job. This boosts their confidence and makes it easier for them to execute their work.


To lessen the harm of office politics, we must be conscious of its damaging components. If we want to do well there, we need to understand how the politics are complicated.

Knowing who to talk to in the office, being able to shrug off public criticism, making your work visible and useful, and advancing initiatives are all essential skills for a successful career.

Office Politics FAQs

How can I be smart in office politics?

  • Facilitate the progress of your superiors.
  • Stay true to your word.
  • Excel at your job.
  • Please use proper etiquette
  • Be visible.

How do you stay neutral in office politics?

Try to maintain a lack of bias

Don’t take sides in a dispute. Keep your comments focused on what is best for the company if feedback is requested; otherwise, try to maintain as much objectivity as possible. When tempers are flaring or people are starting to take things personally, this can help cool things down.

What are negative office politics?

Negative politics aim to advance one’s own interests at the expense of others and the organization.

How do you win people in office?

  • Keep an eye on your coworkers.
  • Use team language.
  • Admit when you are wrong.
  • Smile all the time.

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