How to prepare for office politics: part two
In the second part of our how-to feature on dealing with office politics, we look at the importance of networking, relationships and the value of mistakes for effective working styles with colleagues.
Networking and relationships
Not everyone you work with can be your friend - encountering some sort of conflict in the office, whether personal or professional, is almost inevitable. The trick is to work on difficult relationships - do not avoid them.
The key is to get control of your emotions. While this can prove challenging during a decision-making or debating process, it is worthwhile.
Cooler heads nearly always prevail, and staying calm and polite in the face of escalating anger or frustration can often be as helpful as a neat solution to the problem which caused the issue.
You must find ways to try and influence difficult colleagues, without appearing to resist or contradict their aims.
Use your influence
In discussions, ask open questions, and get them to fully explain their attitudes, beliefs and ideas. Feeling that they have been listened to is often enough to reassure or satisfy a difficult colleague, or resolve a tense discussion.
You should also be wary of difficult colleagues - don't be drawn into personal conflicts, avoid gossip wherever you can, and think carefully about what information to share with people.
Coalition-building is the basis of a lot of decision-making in business. If you can build respect and trust with as broad a base of colleagues as possible, this will help you when building consensus and forming coalitions within a business, whether formally or informally.
And this almost goes without saying: avoid making enemies where you can - you never know when a colleague's support might prove vital!
Learn from mistakes
This one might seem obvious, but it is important - if you make a mistake, own up to it. Most people instinctively work to limit their liability and distance themselves from the decision-making process when things turn bad, but this is a mistake.
Doing so erodes trust between you and your colleagues, and could make you seem untrustworthy or dishonest. Nobody likes to be thrown under the bus! Admitting your mistakes can be a powerful opportunity for learning, and to improve standards and practices.
Once a mistake has been made and acknowledged, it becomes a signpost so that others can avoid pitfalls you may have fallen into unawares.