How to get past office politics

This complex social structure that exists in the workplace can create an unbearable toxic environment. [Istockphoto]

Office politics are inevitable and here is why. There will always be a difference in personalities, opinions and power play. No matter how large or small a company is, there will always be a group of people who propagate certain agendas, gossip and fear. They are capable of doing all it takes to influence outcomes that favour them.

No matter your position, you cannot avoid it. This complex social structure that exists in the workplace can create an unbearable toxic environment causing the organisation to suffer negatively unless action is taken by the necessary authorities.

If you find yourself always in the middle of these conflicts, you need to ask yourself some serious questions or you may end up at the jobless corner. How do you interact with others? Who do you deal with or interact with? How do you pick your battles?

Unless these interactions morph into office gossip and cause division, the flow of information is not a bad thing. Just make sure you understand your position at that company. This way, you can filter what you can say and to who. Before you get too comfortable with your colleagues, you need to maintain a professional stance. Boundaries will help you set clear work structures and keep others from using you or taking advantage of your politeness.

Important as it is to have good friendships at the workplace, you must understand and differentiate between being sociable and oversharing. Giving too much about yourself can be used against you in the future. If you happen to work with an office bully this is not the time to cower. Your voice must be heard. Stand up and speak up for yourself or for someone else who is being unfairly treated. This will show your strength and earn you some much-needed respect.

Learn to listen more, be a team player and communicate effectively. These soft skills and other interpersonal skills will help you navigate through those office politics. If you do this, there is a likelihood that you will build strong and healthy relationships with those around you. When you build up a great support system you can rest easy. No matter what happens or who says what, you are assured that your social strings will come in handy when you find yourself in a rut.