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Not Your Traditional Office Politics

I spent years in deep denial about office politics. I flatly refused to believe it was necessary to "play" politics in order to succeed. And - with a symbolic if not actual
stamp of my foot - if it was necessary, then I'd sacrifice my career on the altar of my disdain!

Many people confound themselves with the same denial and the same definition of office politics: bad, deceitful, backstabbing,
brown-nosing - all of the slimy things we often think of, both in and out of the office, when we hear the word "politics."

Many years later, and after teaching myself and others to navigate successfully through a lot of political undercurrents, my viewpoint has turned around completely. Successful
personal politics, both at home and in the office, is nothing more - and certainly nothing less - than the art of understanding and practicing meaningful, alert, and complete communication.

Let's look at these three components individually.

Meaningful communication has a wide scope, ranging from avoiding the use of jargon and overly technical explanations, to simply being sure we're giving our audience what they need. It means giving a useful answer that takes the questioner's context into consideration, instead of one that adheres only to the letter of what was asked. It encompasses compassion, understanding when someone needs help even when he or she hasn't said so.

Alert communication means that we're paying attention to what's going on around us. When someone does, asks for, or objects to something, the alert communicator has a pretty good idea what's behind those actions: we understand the context within which the person is operating (or at a minimum, we recognize that this context is there). When we understand the context - whether or not we agree with it - we can participate in a
solution where everyone wins, or at least no one loses. When we are alert to communication on all levels - verbal and nonverbal, including action or lack of action - we can prepare for whatever happens, instead of being startled by it.

Complete communication is akin to "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." It means leaving nothing out - but it
doesn't mean using the truth as a blunt instrument to make others feel or look bad. It means providing the context when we ask for something, so that others can understand the why behind our request, and see how their response fits into a bigger picture. And it means saying the important things to friends and family instead of assuming that they know how we feel.

Just like any tool, political ability can be turned to good uses or bad. I can use a hammer to smash a priceless piece of art, or I can use it to tap a finishing nail into a
beautiful piece of furniture. In either case, it's not the hammer that caused the end result; it's what I've done with the hammer.

Likewise, I can use my political ability to undermine others, turn their ideas into mine, and inflict guilt on anyone who fails to meet my expectations. But I'd much rather take
the skills I've learned - and they can be learned, though they're not often taught in today's schools - to help others succeed, applaud their achievements, and be clear about what I want and need so others can give me the gift of helping.

Article written by Grace L. Judson.

About the Author: Author Bio::


Grace L. Judson

political forums

liberal politics


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