Office politics, that hated beast, is a dynamic that most people in the workplace can't avoid. Wherever people gather - office, church, even a camping club - relationships are formed and power struggles ensue. Everyone brings his or her personal agenda to a team or a group, an agenda filled with personal expectations that is rarely openly shared with all. These hidden agendas cause surprise and dismay to other group members who unintentionally step on toes or take an independent path.
Communication, or lack of it, determines who rises to the top of any group. Words with their shades of meaning get interpreted various ways depending upon one's perspective or hidden agenda filter. Words can be used intentionally to drive a personal agenda, forcing issues to the forefront or making others feel slammed. Body language is also a strong communicator indicating desired inclusion or exclusion of another's words, actions or presence. Lack of any communication leaves group members to their own imaginations to fill the void that can drive wedges between others in the group.
So, what does a person do? How do you fit or blend into a group? How to do find your place where others will respect and accept you? How do you keep office politics from hurting your career - or can the politics even help it?
Unfortunately, there's no magic wand you can wave to make everyone play nice. People are wired in so many different ways that there's no one recipe that will work for all. Over the years I have learned from work and other situations that authenticity is still the best policy. Speak up - be yourself. You'll feel better if you are first true to you instead of trying to play other people's games. That doesn't mean that you'll always "win" or be included in a group. There may even be times that you end of getting fired or have to walk away from a group. But in the long run, you will be the one who's taken the high road. After all, you have to live with you for the rest of your life.
I would love to hear how you manage group dynamics. Please leave your comments below.
Wishing you career success in 2010!