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Office Life

When to play office politics

Self-Assessment Quiz ─ TRUE or FALSE:

  1. I know the map of the political power at my office; I know who has influence and who doesn’t and why.
  2. I have a social network at work and have made sure I’m connected across departments and internal hierarchy.
  3. I have great interpersonal skills; I can pick up on other’s emotions and act accordingly while also keeping a check on my own.

Alrighty, friends. Office politics. Most people will tell you to steer clear of it, but I’m here to tell you that to win, you’ve GOT to play. You don’t have to get ugly with it, but you’ve gotta play. If you answered TRUE to the Self-Assessment questions above, you’re half-way there.

Listen, office politics don’t go away even if/when you change jobs and they only get more complicated as you advance in your career. Do yourself a favor and get good at it now!

So here’s an Office Politics Scenario:

You want a box of Uni-Ball Vision pens. Black ones. The Office Manager’s grip on the supply cabinet keys seems to get real tight when you come asking for what you rightfully need to get your work done. You notice pens are flying off the shelf willy-nilly for Lucy and Joe and Molly, but for you, nada. What do you do?

  1. Buy your own pens.
  2. Lie and say the pens are for your boss.
  3. Tell HR that Ms. Office Manager is withholding company property from employees.
  4. Tell er’ybody else in the office that Ms. Office Manager is withholding company property from employees
  5. Have Molly get them for you.
  6. Take the pens when Ms. Office Manager is on her lunch break; she’ll never notice.
  7. Use a pencil instead.

Ms. Office Manager lady is being a bully. She is exerting her work power over you for whatever reason, and it’s wrong. Whether she stops this behavior or not is up to you and your game.  What move(s) do you make to get to #WINNING?

  1. Yes, you could buy your own pens and be done with it. You are an adult and have no time for petty behavior. Thing is, you’ve disengaged if you do this. The issue needs to be dealt with and by avoiding it, nothing gets resolved. Plus, you’re spending your own money on something the company is clearly providing. Money is money and you need to keep yours in your pocket. #LOSING
  2. If you lie and say the pens are for your boss, what happens when you’re caught in the lie? Not good, ‘cause now you’re a liar and your boss is looking at you crazy. Now, if you mention to your boss that you’re having troubles getting some pens, she may say, “Oh, just say they’re for me.” Problem solved. She probably is already fully aware of Ms. Office Manager’s shenanigans. By telling your boss, you’ve created a pen ally. This is a good thing. This is #WINNING. Lying is #LOSING.
  3. Telling HR about this nonsense can backfire. It is a small issue and you could look like a tattle-tale and they may not listen to you when you really need them for something important. #LOSING
  4. Telling er’ybody else about this personal pen embargo could get you popular and win you a gang of office friends. But now you’ve turned into a bully yourself and that’s not cool. And you still don’t have the pens. #LOSING
  5. Pulling Molly onto your team is helpful. She can be your informant to get important intel on why Ms. Office Manager is against you. Make sure she remains neutral as she sleuths. Asking Molly is also a win because you get what you want and need, the pens! #WINNING
  6. Taking the pens when Ms. Office Manager is gone is technically stealing. Like the white lie above, this could come back to haunt you in a big way and you for real, for real do not want to get fired for stealing some old pens. #LOSING
  7. Using a pencil isn’t going to make you feel good, is it? Denying yourself what you want and need isn’t cool and once again, you’re avoiding the issue. Now, if you want to show Ms. Office Manager that you don’t need her stinking pens, maybe she’ll passively aggressively give you the pens when she sees you no longer want them. Use this move at your own risk. #DRAW

Cheryl Grace is the sassy aunt, best friend, and mentor you’ve always needed in your life. The successful jet-setting, global corporate executive founded the aspirational lifestyle brand Powerful Penny LLC. Her products, workshops and speeches probe, inspire and empower to ensure those who really want to can get to their next level of best. Her blogs on careers, prosperity, relationships, family, looking and living fabulously, and living a five-star life can be found at www.powerfulpenny.com.

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