Plotting a Plan for Managing Office Politics, Part 2

May 22nd, 2016


Salespeople are everywhere. My uncle and aunt are visiting our extended family for a long weekend. Before he retired, my Uncle Johnny was an awarding winning insurance salesman. Now in his eighties, he is still a scratch golfer and remains a superb sales person too. During one of our usually animated family conversations, he shared with us how he continues to “sell” every day when it comes to getting what he needs or wants … including a seat assignment for his flight to visit us. Make no mistake … he’s got that extra something, a genuine quality, which immediately makes people feel charmed, valued, and liked … all the trappings for being an extraordinary sales person. He’s also a fantastic example of how “you’re always selling something.” POLITICS - golf

Listening to him tell a number of amusing and always insightful stories, it got me thinking. What often tags along for the ride when it comes to selling? Playing politics. In fact, being politically adept is a key aspect of being a successful sales person as well … knowing who carries decision-making power, who influences whom, and what’s important to selected individuals who have the final say as to how things are done. That also nicely carries us into our current discussion, managing office politics. In my last post I provided a simple list of five skills which enable or expand your political dexterity. Here they are again — A, B, C, D, E – Ask, Build, Control, Develop, Emphasize. I’ve already covered the A for Ask component (see my previous post), let’s take a look now at B and C or Build and Control.

shaking hands and business team

shaking hands and business team

B — Build relationships which help you influence outcomes. As you move through political mazes make an effort to network and find friends. Build relationships and allies while avoiding taking sides. Be assertive and confident while respecting others and establishing a platform for your integrity. This means gossiping is a no-no. Don’t get sucked into spreading rumors or unconstructive commentary. Once relationships start to take shape and you build trust with others you’ll have the foundation for resolving conflict, influencing outcomes and collaboratively laboring toward common objectives. TIP – Building relationships across groups also helps you take on challenges and get more done, faster.

C – Control your emotions. When you’re confronted by another person at work it’s often politically and emotionally charged. Like a flash of lightning, your emotions kick in as well – anger, hurt, frustration converge into the urge to give the other person a well-deserved verbal wallop. Thinking about lashing out? Don’t. You’ll regret it. Keep your credibility and character intact by keeping your emotions in check. This reduces the opportunity for others to use your behavior against you. Another bonus for controlling your feelings is it enhances your persona as a mature individual with leadership qualities. TIP – Control your emotions to better navigate political moments, gain control, and diffuse stressful situations.

How well and how often do you consciously work at building relationships at the office? Once a month, once a week, every day? If you do – nice! If you don’t, you’re missing the boat. Every conversation is an opportunity to build a better relationship that will help move success forward and make your labors more enjoyable. How about controlling your emotions? Oh boy. This can be tough but likewise mandatory – even after an incredibly frustrating day or week — emotions must be kept in check. No one appreciates another person’s emotional outburst. What tricks do you use to B and C — Build relationships and Control emotions? Send me your comments! I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks with the next installment to our conversation. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

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