Navigating Office Politics

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May 1 2012, Published 1:04 p.m. ET

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Office culture can be difficult to navigate. Between shared spaces, gossip, wardrobe malfunctions, favoritism, gender politics, office romance, co-workers and supervisors–the office can be an absolute jungle.

As you shift through uncharted territories, it’s important to keep a level head and not allow the politics to be the guide. Knowing true office professionalism and business etiquette can aid to reaching the ultimate career destination.

One thing to keep in mind is the power of marketing.  Marketing isn’t just for companies and products. Treating yourself as a brand can help you stay true to your mission at the office. The same way companies protect their brand, you too must protect your personal brand.

Women in the office have the opportunity to showcase leadership skills, excel as both a team player and on independent projects. Don’t let office politics ruin your professionalism and hinder your personal agenda.

Here are a few tips to help you remain true to your personal brand while dealing with office politics.

Make friends

Having an ally in the office can really help you understand your office culture. While it’s great to have a friendly work environment in the office, you must remember that every coworker is not a close friend. Coworkers can turn into great friends later down the road, but don’t rush. Keeping the two separate can ensure that the office remains professional at all times.

Watch what you say.

Nasty comments do have the ability to affect professional relationships in the workplace. Nothing goes unnoticed. It’s important to remember that gossip can spread through the office like a disease, so be careful what you say or pass along. Gossiping around the office shows a lack of professionalism.

Don’t vent in the office.

Having a bad day is unavoidable in the professional world. You may not get along with every person in the office but venting about a supervisor or coworker can really hurt your career. I can’t stress the importance of knowing the difference between an office coworker and friend. There is nothing wrong with letting an office ally know you are stressed, but stay away from conversations that point blame.

HR is NOT your enemy!

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Don’t be afraid to talk to human resources if you feel uncomfortable in the office. HR is there to help you succeed in your position. If you are being harassed in any way, make sure you speak up. Remember to document all complaints in writing.

Attend an out-of-office gathering.

Attending office holiday parties and happy hours can really improve your relationships with your office coworkers. This social gathering can be very beneficial to creating office allies. Keep your professional brand intact; don’t drink too much at any office social gatherings.

For more tips on mastering office politics, pick up Amy Goldschlager’s Office Politics: The How-To Guide. This quick read will serve as a key tool in your journey through the jungle of office politics.

[Used in this article: Amy Goldschlager’s Office Politics: The How-To Guide]

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