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Office Politics: Why People Attack You!

The number of sly, scheming or hostile colleagues in office is a necessary evil everywhere. The new comer tries to be nice to everybody but receives either cold response or expressionless faces.  It makes him/her a little nervous and diffident. Lack of experience compels the person to seek peer help. But nothing comes for free, not even insignificant information like the location of the cashier’s cabin. Tackling the boss is no easy task, especially when his/her behavior is a total mystery. Expectations of  kind  considerations of the boss may teach some of the bitterest lessons of life in the first few weeks of joining an office. The office politics takes the fullest advantage of the situation: they know the boss and office politics and have their own plans to gobble up the new comer.

Attacks are a normal practice. Only the forms of attack are varied. Reporting to the boss in a manner of imputations is one common practice. The new comer is hesitant in the beginning. He doesn’t feel confident in refuting the baseless charges or criticism. Besides, it is the learning on the job stage for him/her and hence inappropriate to antagonize anyone. Actually it is a silent confrontation between innocence and experience, between positive frame of mind and negative frame of mind, and productive instincts and destructive instincts. It is normal for a new comer to expect warm friendly welcome from others, but it too is equally normal for the disgruntled to treat any new comer harshly. May be, it is their way of cautioning the new comer, instead of asking blunt questions like “why are you joining this wretched organization? ” .

But generally, it is to establish leadership and hegemony over the new comer. Office politics tries to shake the confidence of the new comer before he/she settles down. Unless the newcomer has nerves of steel, it can deliver a lifelong blow by undermining his/her confidence. Some mistakes can be costly. Attacks from the office politics actors are aimed to shake the individual’s confidence. There is nothing great about the players of office politics, excepting that they have been there for some time and the newcomer has yet to assimilate the organization and its behavior.

The best way to get over the traps laid down by office politics is to keep up your confidence levels high all the time. Even if you don’t know something, don’t feel nervous. There is always a way to learn the skills of doing a particular job. You need not depend on the supervisor always. Rather learn from subordinates and colleagues too. There may be precedents when others had solved such problems in the past. Active listening to the views of others in a meeting can be helpful. Similarly, actively participate in the meetings. Your enthusiasm is bound to catch the attention of the boss and other colleagues. Sooner than later, someone will take the initiative of opening a conversation with you. When that happens, your success over office politics starts emerging. Solving problems is the only answer to problems, loss of nerves is no solution. Loss of nerve destroys self confidence.  Confidence turn even failures into success. Remember: your very selection for a job is the certificate of your capabilities and competencies having already been judged by a panel of experts. The competition made you score over others. Initial hiccups don’t matter. Even if you make mistakes, learn to fix them rather than grieving over them. Who doesn’t make mistakes? All of us fall before learning to stand on our own two legs and walk. The steps are naturally unsteady in the beginning but for how long? That is true of any job.

Steer clear of controversies. Office politics attempts to build controversies around you: you are quoted as having commented about the boss or the colour of the dress of his secretary or anything against the dignity of the chief of the organization or government. It can be anything that is capable of raising flames of controversy. In the beginning, avoid giving opinion on any subject, even when goaded or prodded by colleagues. Keep quiet as much as possible. Remember the golden rule: be an active listener.

Try not to be assertive. You lose nothing if people think you are too humble or even simplistic. Let them. People love to deal with others assessed by them to be in possession of lesser attributes than they themselves. Gradually, they will turn friendly. Corrected in the beginning, they are bound to adopt a hostile attitude. Who welcomes being criticized?

Give everyone the feel that you know nothing. In fact people have been seen to be feigning foolishness or ignorance or rusticity. After sometime only, others know how dangerous such buffoons really are. They soon start fearing these fools, who acquire a weird power over their fooled colleagues. Looks are generally misleading. Enter the mind. But that is next to impossible, unless one is shrewd enough. To get over politics, some amount of shrewdness is required. But it should never interfere in your inter-personal relations. Shrewdness delivers a permanent blow to friendship. It is enough if one develops the capability to probe the minds of the scheming colleagues in order to avoid pitfalls. It should not become an addiction, as intoxicating office politics always is but it leaves a feeling of emptiness only.

The best way to build a successful career is to first learn about everything regarding the job like organizational set up, colleagues, hierarchy, business, modes of transaction of business, competitors, vision & goals, applicable laws, personnel management competencies etc. A humane approach is always better. There is nothing worth a gift than a warm & friendly smile to your colleagues. If you are good to others, they will be to you. At least they will think before being hostile to you. The players of office politics might be leaders of a kind in ragging the new comer but are ever in poor esteem of their colleagues, who know them inside out. Turn them into your best teachers, for they keep you on your toes all the time & make work really hard. But that is the only way to learn! Where is any cause for complaint. A poet has said that it is best that the foul mouthing critics are kept comfortably near your personal dwelling, so that you are conscious of treading the path of virtue all the time. Let the attacks of the hostile players of office politics never weaken you by shaking your self confidence. Turn it into a powerful weapon in your hands for your career growth.

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