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  • How to Overcome Office Politics

    You’re sitting in the breakroom enjoying your lunch when you overhear your coworker talking about your boss getting fired because he lied to his supervisor. As you listen closely to the conversation, you find the story hard to believe. After lunch, you decide to confront your boss about the situation, and it turns out, it was just a rumor.

    For most professionals, there’s probably been a moment in your career when you’ve had to deal with a similar situation regarding office politics. Research shows 47 percent of employees feel office politics distracts them from being productive at work. Office politics are not only a distraction, but also one of the top 10 stressors in the workplace.

    If your workplace is filled with gossip and you’re tired of putting up with it, here are five ways to overcome office politics:

    1. Avoid gossip around the water cooler.

    One of the most common places workers get involved with office politics is around the water cooler. In fact, 26 percent of workers feel gossip is one of the most common issues in the workplace.

    Whether you’re on lunch or grabbing coffee from the break room, you’re bound to overhear some type of news or rumor taking place in your company. Although it might be difficult to avoid hearing these conversations, resist the temptation to contribute to the gossip you hear.

    2. Before you act on something, make sure it’s true.

    The last thing you want to do is tell your coworkers about a rumor you heard from another coworker. Rumors can spread like wildfire in the workplace, which is why you’re better off avoiding sharing stories once you have proof, such as a memo or email from your boss.

    If you hear something in the office that seems plausible, the best way to approach this situation is to talk to your boss. Your boss is (hopefully) the most reliable source of information in your workplace, so you should have any of your questions or concerns addressed by them first.

    3. Create boundaries between work friendships.

    Office politics can become messy when you develop close friendships at work.

    For example, if you’ve been working very hard toward a promotion and your best friend at work ends up getting it, you can’t allow this to interfere with your performance and attitude. Workplace friendships are nice to have; however, you can’t allow them to consume your work ethic and success.

    4. Don’t engage in negative conversations.

    When you hear a coworker bad-mouthing your boss, the best thing to do is to avoid the negative banter. If you participate in this conversation and your boss finds out, it could hurt your relationship with him or her, and even worse, cost you your job.

    5. Stick to your values and be yourself.

    Above all, the best thing you can do to overcome office politics is to stick to your values and be yourself. Don’t allow gossip to compromise your values or influence your work ethic. This can only harm you in the long-run and create more problems at work.

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president ​of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist forExaminer.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com.

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    Posted in Personal Branding, Skill Development, Workplace Success
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