5 Ways To Navigate Through Office Politics & Take Back Your Control

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workers having a meeting

No one likes to deal with office politics, yet it's a very integral and undeniable part of corporate life.

In almost every conversation with my executive coaching clients, no matter the goals, the topic of office politics always crops up.

All companies will have their fair share of politics. You can't be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand and say you don’t want to deal with it.

If you're going to be successful in your career, you'll need to learn to decode and navigate office politics. The key is to stop wishing it will go away and to start learning how to thrive in your company’s political environment.

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Sometimes, when the going gets too rough, quitting may be the only solution — and that's all right.

However, it must at least draw out some realization and understanding of your challenges, values, and beliefs.

Office politics don't always leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but it can be highly destructive if people only care about personal gains.

Essentially, office politics is how power gets worked out on a practical, day-to-day basis. You can play smart and know when and how it's worth playing your hand.

5 Ways to navigate office politics

1. Identify the influencers.

Every department or group has formal and informal influencers. Sometimes the biggest influencers in the company are not the higher-ups.

Try and understand who is heard, valued, and respected. Observe and understand the dynamics between different people. Notice things like who has lunch together and who gets invited to important meetings.

You don't have to choose sides, but it’s smart to understand the rules and the players and their strategies.

2. Understand what drives your colleagues.

The political miscreants are working toward an agenda. That agenda may not always be aligned with the company’s strategy and culture. Knowing the plans of your coworkers is essential.

You don’t have to agree. It just enables you to be careful of or leverage their intentions. When you know people’s agendas, it becomes so much easier to navigate office politics.

3. Seek out mentors and sponsors.

A mix of influence and relationships supports an excellent career trajectory. The more supporters you have that believe in you and what you're trying to achieve, the easier it becomes to succeed.

Having an influential sponsor watching your back is an excellent way of building your network of champions. Seniors and mentors are helpful in decoding the politics as well as opening doors to opportunities for you.

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4. Don’t be a gossipmonger.

It's very tempting and entertaining to have a good gossip session in the break room, but don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

Be very careful when indulging in office gossip; you never know when it may come back to bite you.

5. Ask yourself: Do you feel like you belong to your organization?

Is the culture of the organization opposed to your values as an individual? Very often, people try and adapt to their organization’s culture by trying to fit in.

When you try and fit in, instead of feeling like you belong, it makes everything so much harder.

Unfortunately, staying out of office politics altogether is not an effective strategy.

As long as it's going on around you, you will be affected by it. It's better to be a competent and conscious player than to be pulled into the game without any agency.

Manipulation, gossiping, backstabbing, and other stereotypical methods are not required to navigate office politics.

Navigating office politics can be smooth when you follow the golden rule of negotiating and operating with a win-win attitude towards all. Instead of trying to defeat anyone, spend that time and energy thinking about how everyone can get what they want.

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Bhavna Dalal is a Master Certified Executive Coach MCC ICF, speaker, and author of Checkmate Office Politics" who helps people develop their leadership skills such as executive presence, strategic thinking, influencing and networking, women leadership, and so on. To know more about her work, visit her website or find her on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published at Fortune India. Reprinted with permission from the author.