Are You a Victim of Office Politics? Here Is How to Handle It to Your Advantage.

by Percival J. Meris on April 26, 2010

Office Politics Victim

Photo by yufuyf

O FFICE POLITICS ARE UBIQUITOUS AND INEVITABLE REALITIES of every workplace environment, be they white-collar or blue-collar. They are about how we interact and build relationships, as we promote our ideas, influence our organization, or increase our power to get our own agenda realized. As an organization member, you”ve got yourself entangled in this game, whether you like it or not.

What Give Rise to Office Politics?

Office politics arises in work environments that breeds insecurities. The result is employees who are:

  • disgruntled, being or perceiving themselves to be victims of politics, and
  • greedily ambitious, coveting job promotions at others’ expense.

In turn, they give rise to the following behavior:

  • Trying to gain advantage to climb up the corporate ladder at the expense of others.
  • Promoting their influence and self-esteem in the organization to divert attention from their shortcomings.
  • Exacting revenge on coworkers who have done them wrong at work.

Office politics are reflective of an organizational culture, characterized by performance below acceptable standards. These organizations see a rise in the incidence of political behaviors that ripen into source of conflict.

Office Politics: Are They Good or Bad?

People who engage in office politics use it wisely or maliciously. Their aims reflect either the organization’s interest or their own self-interest. The means they employ are either righteous or not. As a result, they increase or decrease employee morale. You have the choice to use this to your advantage or disadvantage.

Destructive Office Politics

In one destructive scenario, employees steer situations to their own benefit at the expense of their fellow employees. They employ many different forms of tactics, such as rumor-mongering, blame, betrayal, psychological manipulation, back stabbing, gossiping, bullying, and coercion.

In another, unfair and biased management decisions, such as undeserved promotion, contribute to low employee morale. They stir up anger, jealousy, and hatred among the “victims of injustice”.

Being counterproductive in nature, this kind of politics creates an inefficient working environment, and makes organizational life emotionally draining and intolerable.

Constructive Office Politics

Not all political actions are bad, however. The problem really is not politics. It is your reaction to situations that makes politics poor.

Effective implementation of a good political action plan can help you take advantage of the opportunities it holds. It can help you establish resources and influences, by which you can accomplish your career goals. Without exploiting others, it can help you increase your personal power, while maintaining your integrity.

How Do You Play Constructive Office Politics?

You can diffuse the destructive power of office politics by using it constructively. Play the game to make it work for, rather than against, you. Here is how:

Develop These Qualities in You

Likability and respectability

Office politics is all about likability, not competence. Less competent but likable people advance farther in their careers. Both pleasing your boss and being generous with your helping hand to your colleagues enhances these qualities.

Competence and dedication

Your best assurance for job security is performance. Do your job as best as you can. That is competence and dedication. Now, if you can be both competent and likable, then you’ve got a deadly fusion in your hands.

Communication skills

The most effective way to deal with office politics is to communicate openly and honestly. Stick to facts, and keep personalities out of discussions. There are times, though, when you have to keep your mouth shut. Talk less, and listen more.

Strategies for Handling Specific Cases

Gossip and rumor-mongering

Distance yourself from gossip-mongers. When gossip finds its way into the conversation, change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation.

At times, it is advantageous to tolerate gossips. Just limit your participation to the barest minimum. Gossips, as long as they true, keep you informed of tension areas that you can respond to appropriately.


Unfavorable actions against you may spring from people’s insecurities. You, by your enviable qualities or abilities, may have caused these feelings to surface. In these cases, refrain from challenging or negatively retorting to their comments. Simply, offer them simple but honest compliments.

Back stabbing

Make back stabbers aware what you know about them. Do this in private to avoid causing undue embarrassment for them. It is likely that they will stop what they are doing.


Choosing to ignore office politics may be detrimental to your career. Your career advancement depends on The Four P’s – Politics, Performance, Personality, and Potential. Never, therefore, underestimate the importance of office politics in determining your success. Just make sure you do not use it as the excuse to cover up for your own shortcomings.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

steveborgman May 3, 2010 at 12:58 am

Percival, it's interesting that I have always thought of office politics as bad. I never really thought that office politics could be constructive! It just goes to show that it most often begins with changing our thinking and attitudes about it. I will be sure to incorporate these tips into my work place from now on 🙂

sirpercy May 3, 2010 at 1:30 am

Thanks, Steve. I am very glad you find the ideas in the article useful and helpful to you.

Natisha June 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Hi! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give
a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your
articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums
that deal with the same subjects? Thanks!
Natisha recently posted..Natisha

Percival J. Meris June 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Hi, Natisha.

Thank you for visiting my blog and finding reading my articles enjoyable. I can suggest a few blogs similar to mine:

There are many more, but these just are a few of my favorites. I am sure you will enjoy reading them, as well.


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