Four Ways to Combat Office Politics

With Election Day right around the corner, we need to discuss some politics of our own. And by that we actually mean at work when there’s a nemesis constantly barking at you.

According to Joyce Lain Kennedy, “Careers Now” columnist for Tribune Media Services, there are several ways to tactfully handle the drama, as outlined in one of her recent columns.

1. Wear your game face. She suggests behaving as if a video camera has been installed and you’re appearing in front of the entire office or your boss. “Civility never hurt anyone’s reputation,” she writes.

2. Watch your back. Know your enemy and try to identify a pattern of behavior such as sabotage or bad mouthing. In fact, Kennedy recommends sending an email to an adversary prior to an important meeting while copying a third person as a witness to the online conversation. Then you can send a follow up note as well.

“After the meeting, send a confirmation email to your nemesis spelling out your understanding of the division of responsibilities and copying the executive to whom you report.”

3. Anticipate responses. During a meeting you can always anticipate your response to an opponent when they try to sink your ship during a meeting.

And if you’re being unjustly criticized, Kennedy says to “freeze a smile on your face” and then calmly retort something like, “I appreciate your bringing this to my attention, although, as I’m sure you’ll realize after thinking about it, this is an inappropriate forum. After the meeting, why don’t you show me exactly where my data errors are?”

4. Find a pinch hitter. We really like this one the best. Simply tell your boss there may be better outcomes if you work with your foe’s assistant and he or she works with yours.

She adds, “Try to avoid boring your mutual boss with the detailed depths of your ongoing conflict. The other guy may be the jerk, but you could be the one replaced.”