Playing office politics

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in Office Politics,Workplace Communication

If you believe Ronna Lichtenberg, everyone has an “evil twin” who goads him to act against his better judgment. In her book Work Would Be Great If It Weren’t for the People (Hyperion, $22.95), she tells us it’s fine to let your dark side guide you—but only when you’re engaged in self-defense.

She argues against lying over facts and faking friendship with an influential colleague whom you loathe—although she supports lying about your opinion to curry favor with key people.

For Lichtenberg, savvy office politicians take preventive steps to avoid problems. Examples:

Steer clear of sex. The best way to fend off an advance is never to let it get that far, Lichtenberg says. Cut off inappropriate discussions sooner, not later, so that you don’t get invited for drinks in the first place.

Pick your battles. Only wage political warfare if you can stage a win-win for you and the firm. This way, you’ll avoid petty feuds that divert your attention from what matters most.

Write tame memos.
Scribbling impulsive missives will almost guarantee conflict. In fact, Lichtenberg argues you shouldn’t write memos at all unless they’re absolutely necessary.

Before asking for a pay raise, anticipate objections. Lichtenberg notes that bosses have many ways to say no. Example: If they say “maybe later,” it means they don’t want to rock the boat, so gently persist and ask for ways to take on more duties so that you can more clearly justify your greater value.


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