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How to cope with workplace politics

I met Lori several years ago and was immediately impressed with her drive and insight. As a successful coach and consultant, she's got a lot of experience both working in politically charged workplaces and helping people who have to. That's why I asked her to write this guest column for Workplace Politics Awareness Month.

The bottom line is that, no matter where I work, there are going to be some people with whom I experience ease and some people with whom I experience resistance. I have strong intention around having an enjoyable experience in the workplace and this takes a conscious effort. My three tips for dancing around office politics:

TIP #1: INCLUSION

I am inclusive and do my best to have my relationships with everyone in the office be transparent. I am not exclusive of anyone, particularly those with whom I experience the most resistance. I more often than not go out of my way to be even more inclusive with those with whom I experience the most resistance. Even those who decline invitations appreciate the option of accepting or rejecting an invitation.

TIP #2: I OPERATE ABOVE THE LINE, DEMONSTRATING CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATION AND BEHAVIORS

I practice holding those I work with in high regard and focus on what I appreciate about my fellow workers. Everyone is dealing with all kinds of issues that are often not shared. I keep this in mind and access my compassion when I question someone’s behavior and knee jerk reactions to what I sometimes judge as “small stuff”. I make a point of reminding myself when I think someone is being destructive - gossiping for instance, or undermining another as another example - that he or she simply doesn’t know any better in the moment. I go out of my way to lead conversations in a constructive direction when I think a conversation is below the line (destructive). I emphasize what appreciate in others, including those present and not present in the immediate conversation. If I am unsuccessful in changing a negative tone to a positive tone I am direct in my communication and let those gossiping, or undermining another, know I think this is destructive behavior. I encourage people to be solution focused and productive.

TIP #3: REGULAR REALITY CHECKS

I practice not taking personally what I hear, directly or indirectly, about what another person, or group of people, think or say about me. I understand everyone has his/her interpretation of the office dynamic and peoples’ points of view about me are through their unique filters. People integrate their own bias and fears into their perceptions.  I take the position that anything I hear from someone about myself or another is good information for me to consider. I ask clarifying questions and think about the information. Sometimes I act on it and sometimes I do not. I make a point of checking in with everyone rather than a segment of the population in my workplace. I remain open minded and do not rush to a quick conclusion, nor do I make a quick decision with limited information. I do my due diligence.

Lori Marcoux is the founder and president of Extraordinary Learning, an international training company that provides corporations, government organizations and entrepreneurs with unparalleled leadership training through its flagship course, 21st Century Leadership, custom designed in-house courses and other offerings. Follow her on Twitter @lorimarcoux or call 800.891.2956 to learn more about Lori and the unique services Extraordinary Learning offers.

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