Avoiding Office Politics

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 6.28.17 amIf you are like most of us, you are not too fond of office politics.The fact remains, there is rarely an organization where office politics don’t exist.

So, if we cannot avoid office politics, what are some of the ways we can behave to minimize their impact on the workplace?

Don’t get involved.

There are huge benefits to staying out of office politics — especially when it comes to decision-making times – although it’s far easier said than done.

There are however people in our everyday workplaces who always somehow manage to stay out of the office politics. Watch the way they behave when office gossip and politics come into play. In many cases you will see them slowly walk away, and at the very least they will withhold comment so that they are not actively engaging. That way they are completely immune and deemed by others to be safe from taking sides or casting judgment on others who do.

Be Boring.

If you do get dragged into office politics and your back is against the wall, you can always go for boredom. Counter that panicked feeling of being coerced to voice an opinion or to agree disagree, simply by asking how they feel and think about the situation.

You will find the conversation will fade off because the person trying to drag you into the office politics is not getting what they want out of you. With a bit of luck, this person will soon understand you are no fun to talk about people with or otherwise involve in counterproductive office politics.

Get Left Out.

Just like those who are too boring to gossip with, ie those who don’t and won’t get seduced into office politics, you too can get left out all together.

By refraining from starting any conversations, you will automatically be left out when some fresh meat is served up about someone new.

You may think you are making a harmless joke or a simple sideways comment, but even the most innocent and well-meaning small talk can and will give the drama queens of office politics what they need to get you involved.  Best advice? Steer clear.

Include Everyone in Your Circle.

This is one case where numbers play in your best defence. When you are friends with everyone, it becomes very difficult for others to drag you into gossip about someone they suspect you may be friends with.

On the other hand, if you are exclusive with your relationships, you will become an easier target for office politics as you will be viewed as someone who will take sides with whoever you are closest too in the office.

Steer Clear of Those who Create office politics.

Office politics are generally started by gossip and in most cases can be attributed to those who are unhappy or have a grudge about something that isn’t going their way. This negativity affects everyone

Avoid those who tend to be most opinionated or who like to talk intimately, ie one on one in low voices, about people places and things going on around the office. Avoid private conversations with them at all costs. This may make you a fresh target for them,  but you’ll be one they’ll quickly bore with because, and remember this well, you’re no fun because you don’t engage. If you do feel you are being a target, repeat the boredom method described above.

When all else fails…

If you are really having trouble with those who repeatedly try to get you involved in office politics, the final and most polite way to deal with these people is to directly tell them you are not interested in hearing or saying anything about someone who is not in the room.

You might find yourself in an awkward situation but you will certainly define yourself as someone who is not interested in office politics and will certainly not be approached by the same trouble maker twice.


Good workplace relationships are based on trust and respect. They increase efficiency, improve team collaboration and greatly reduce costly turnover. And that spells good news for your business’s bottom line.

Relationship is at the top of our list of guiding principles and underlies everything we do and everybody we serve. Learn more about us and what’s behind hiring right people.

Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.

Ashton & Associates Recruiting… Placing Powerful People.


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