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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rules of Engagement?!

What to do when....the office politics are getting you down?!

Office politics are as varied and dangerous as military manoeuvres. There are those who pursue a vast campaign to ensure their promotion and those whose only involvement are minor skirmishes at the outposts. Here are just some of the characters you might find on the office battleground:

Snipers -capable of highly targeted attacks on the vulnerable. Instinctively know your weak spot.

Strafers -indiscriminately bombard others with abuse. Most likely to say 'it's only a joke'.

Veteran campaigner -has seen it all before and knows the rules of engagement better than anyone. Always effortlessly on the winning side.

Double agents -spread misinformation and draw you into incautious revelations, then reveal their turncoat nature by repeating all to the boss.

Firestarter -ignites tempers and enflames hostility with a few carefully chosen words, then watches the inferno from a safe distance.

There are few workplaces so laid back that there will not be some form of tension in the ranks, and though ignorance is bliss it is not always the best way to forge a career. It is certainly true that the safest place to be in the ruthless game of office politics is watching form the sidelines, but you should remain aware of what is going on around you. Be friendly with people, and get to know those who might normally be outside your immediate sphere. The greatest accolade in today's workplace is to be known as a teamplayer.

However, don't exacerbate situations by adding to office gossip or playing colleagues off against each other. Emails are particularly dangerous since they can be saved, forwarded and, worst of all, sent as blind carbon copies. All this means that something written in the heat of the moment may come back to hand you your P45.

When there is conflict in the office, the best way to handle it is to stay unemotional. If there is an inevitable clash, follow these three golden rules. Firstly, don't have your spat in public. Secondly, learn to handle work disputes with the kind of neutrality they deserve - they're nothing to get upset or angry about. Control your voice so that you could be talking about the weather or the footie scores. Finally, don't give your colleague a reason to feel got at; use non-judgemental language, and particularly avoid the accusatory word 'you'.

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