Linus Van Pelt of the Peanuts once said that there are three things you never talk about at the dinner table: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. Granted Linus was saying its best to not ruffle feathers when family travels from long distances for holidays. But this general maxim holds true in the office as well. Keep your opinions about the President, Congress, and other political figures to yourself. Office politics, however, are inevitably going to be part of your daily routines.
Several anonymous Facebook employees told CNBC in January that the company’s review system related to raises and promotions is rigged towards those who fake happiness and push out new features on the platform without fully vetting them. The company uses peer reviews, which forces workers to hang out with fellow employees outside of work hours even if they don’t really like each other. It’s these types of office politics that can make you absolutely miserable at work and/or force you to find a new place of employment.Here are a few tips to give yourself an advantage in the office rat race.
We’ve all been there before - taking a seat on the comfy office break room furniture only to get caught in the middle of a [inappropriate] conversation about a co-worker. You likely have some grievances you'd like to air about said co-worker with the others. But the temptation ultimately leads to appointments with Human Resources trying to save your job.
The best remedy for office gossip is learning trigger language that leads to these unprofessional conversations. That way you can remove yourself from the situation before it starts. One of the easiest queues is a co-worker asking you "can you keep a secret?" Its best to simply say that you are not the best at keeping secrets. Another option is to change the subject altogether. Acknowledge what the gossip starter said and divert to something related to the subject.
Once the cat is out of the bag and you're told information that shouldn't be repeated, simply don't repeat it. All you'll do is dig yourself deeper into a situation that could have been avoided altogether.
When you landed your job, you were happy with the salary, the benefits, and the opportunity to showcase your talents. It also presented a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who could challenge and make you a better developer, consultant, or whatever your job is.
Once you graduate from college and/or high school, a vast majority of new friends are made at work, according to various studies. But the friends you make should have as much or more to lose at work than you do. Don't hang out with entry-level mailroom clerks if you are the manager of your department. This may sound snobbish, but its also very practical. Many companies have formal policies against fraternization. Further, your life has gotten better overall because of your salary and benefits, not the social aspects of work.
Don't take unnecessary, avoidable risks. The only people you should actively court as friends at work are those who can help you reach your full potential and perhaps keep you on track for promotions and raises.
Every morning you see the same group of women from the marketing department walk down to the cafeteria and come back with their morning coffee. Meanwhile you notice three of the company's 10 engineers all eat lunch together and leave behind the others. Its these relationships that are key to understanding who gets along with who, and the people who don't necessarily like each other.
The observations you make about these cliques determine your level of engagement with said individuals. Some of the cliques are based on true friendship; others are based on romance or necessity. Of course some co-workers hang out together a lot because their jobs are mutually dependent. Understanding these relationships will help you discover who is in-charge of said groups, if its a bullying-type situation, or something worse that is best avoided.
Office politics are part of the job. But it is not part of your life. Keep your distance and be selective with workplace communications that are not vital to operations.