Offices can be More Brutal Than a Battlefield. Vatsala Chhibber Tells Who How to Cope with the Perils of Office Politics
The corporate jungle is a dangerous place. People take credit for your work, your boss makes unreasonable requests, your coworkers get away with less work and more salary while most of the office is still remains unaware of your presence. But don’t be disheartened, here’s how you can manoeuvre through the tricky world of office politics:
If Someone Sticks a Knife in Your Back
At work, you might face different levels of backstabbing. Some people might attack you with a fork (by telling your boss that you were taking a holiday during your sick leave) while others might use razor-sharp Samurai swords (by ‘accidentally’ deleting a presentation you were working on). Regardless of the intensity, such acts of sabotage will help you identify the villains at work. Remember to always be cautious around these people, and as far as possible, keep your distance. Don’t bother planning revenge missions, they mostly backfire.
The only way out is to bring up these ‘incidents’ with colleagues, who will mostly sympathise with you. Since there is power in numbers, the villain will realise he/she is being sidelined by the rest of the office. The acts of sabotage will stop and peace will return. Until the next ‘office villain’ makes an appearance.
If You’re Stuck in the Web of Office Gossip
Most offices contain crazier people and stranger stories than those that on Bigg Boss. Alleged affairs, commentaries on clothing styles, speculations about alter egos – office gossip can be a really creative outlet to brighten mundane days at work, until someone comes up to you and says, “Did you tell everyone I flirt with my superiors?” or you observe people whispering in small groups that disperse as soon as you arrive (they’re talking about you, in case you haven’t figured it out). Don’t bother finding out what they’re talking about. Nagging people to tell you what they’ve heard could become another topic of discussion. Recognise office gossip for what it is – a casual way to bond with colleagues; don’t give it more importance. Also, if you want to vent and say spiteful things about a colleague (all of us have weak moments), speak to a friend who doesn’t work with you.
If Your Colleague is Hogging the Limelight
Every office has some employees who never miss an opportunity to remind people of their success, however insignificant: “I’m so glad you liked MY idea”, “Remember last year when MY client was really impressed?”, “I’m so relieved MY inputs have been appreciated”. The more advanced species also resort to flattery: “Sir, your advice really helped me deliver a successful presentation”. So while your colleague is basking in the glory of achievements like stapling two pieces of paper together, your significant contributions go unnoticed. The way out of this situation is to understand that while humility is a great virtue to possess, stupidity is not. If you expect your boss to value your presence someday, you have a long wait ahead. Do not hesitate to bring your ideas to the front and take credit where it’s due. You don’t have to toot your horn, but a slight whistle once in a while will do you good.
If You’re the Bad Guy
Are you greeted with hostile looks at work? Are you left out of group lunches? Do people scatter in different directions when they see you approaching? If yes, drop the innocent victim act. Come on, we know you’re no saint. You really need to introspect and find out why you’re stuck with a lousy reputation. Are you too aggressive, too demanding, too loud or maybe even a bit of a racist? You can ask a friendly colleague to help you understand the reason for your being ostracised. If you have been the bad guy in some situation, take responsibility and offer a sincere apology. Also, efforts at modifying unpleasant traits (we all have them) will be appreciated by your colleagues.
If Your Boss Runs a Nazi Regime
Quit. No Allied forces will free you from your life of bondage and oppression. If your boss is Satan personified, burdening you with work and making the journey to payday a living nightmare, there’s no other way out. If you really want to stick around, maybe you can send him anonymous e-mails of job openings at better companies. If he finds another job, work life will flourish with no ‘bad karma’ blood on your hands.
If No One Takes You Seriously
Whether we like it or not, all of us have been labelled by our colleagues: the workaholic, the spineless wimp, the goofball, the doormat, etc. Once you receive an unflattering label, it is almost impossible to get rid of. If you are the doormat or the spineless wimp, it’s time to start a revolution. Wait, drop the gun! We mean a really small protest. If your subordinates don’t take you seriously, you must establish the rules and show them who’s boss. Even with your fellow colleagues and superiors, be assertive if you really believe in something. Once they realise the kitty can actually roar like a lion, they won’t be messing with you any time soon.
5 STEPS TO OFFICE NIRVANA
1. Don’t blame other people in your office for your mistakes. You can blame the traffic, Aishwarya Rai’s baby, President Obama or your cat, but never your colleagues.
2. Make sure office gossip can never be traced back to you. Begin all stories with “I heard from someone” (don’t mention names).
3. Don’t befriend your boss on Facebook. One controversial status update or pictures of your holiday in Goa while you were ‘down with the flu’ could cost you dearly.
4. Don’t lose your cool. If you sense a heated argument with your boss is
going out of hand, imagine your boss doing the Gangnam Style dance. This will ensure that you smile through the rest of the conversation.
5. Carry chocolates in your pocket and give them to your colleagues at random times. Nobody hates Santa.
Volume 2 Issue 6