View Full Version : How can I learn to cope better with politics at work?

8-25-11, 4:55am
I guess I am rather naive/stupid but I would really like to get a handle on how other people handle things that come up at work. Bickering coworkers, unsupportive management, etc.

Rather than post questions here, I would like to find a place full of things like and how people really dealt with them. Books/sites welcome.

8-25-11, 6:40am
One book I found really useful was "Nice Girls don't get the Corner Office".

8-25-11, 10:06am
I coped by choosing to work an off shift--often alone. Probably not the most practical solution. I lucked into a few crews in my career wherein people were all capable, cooperative, and compatible--thus a joy to work with--but those were the exceptions.

8-25-11, 4:10pm
I really like Bob Sutton. He wrote the book "The No ***hole Rule", among other things. He does profile negative cases from time to time, but generally has more stuff about what makes a functional workplace and management. He also often links to useful material from his blog:


My own solution to this dilemma was to get out of a dysfunctional work environment and move to one where the boss is a real mensch and has hired great people. I still sometimes have to deal with difficult people, but none of them are in my office. It is really wonderful, especially considering my previous boss was pretty much a psychopath. I feel very, very lucky, but also proud that when my current boss was hiring he could see my potential to fit into that environment. So if you are contemplating a job change, put a high stock on the environment and attitude of the places you are applying. There really is a huge difference between environments, and even though it is a challenge to get a job these days you are probably not doing yourself a favor if you accept a position in a place with a negative climate.


8-27-11, 11:17am
the ability to present a positive attitude along with a "can do" will carry you far. I've seen it happen many times over the years. So, no matter how you really feel, put up a front. If not willing to do this, you need to find a better fit.

8-27-11, 6:46pm
PS: As an example of why I think Bob Sutton is a great resource, here is a recent post from his blog that has an overview of/commentary on research that indicates having helpful and supportive colleagues can increase your lifespan:


Really interesting research and given the documented effects stress has on your physical and mental health I think it is probably spot on. Another good reason for looking for a position where office politics and monkey business is not a major part of the dynamic. They do exist. HOpe you can find one!


8-29-11, 11:54am
It's really hard to cope with office politics. I'm also in the thick of some hairy stuff right now, so I hear ya!

The advice here so far is right on the money. All you can really do is try to function as best you can, not reveal too much emotion, and cover your a$$ with documentation, saved emails, etc. if you're in the crosshairs and someone else is blaming you for something.

I'm in a shame-blame environment right now. I was recently reamed for emailing the wrong person. The employee who assaulted me was lateral to me, not my boss, and her hate missile just came out of nowhere and knocked the living crap out of me.

The upshot of this is that I instantly lost respect for her. I have NO frickin' idea why she chose to tear me apart over a minor matter - it's possible her boss yelled at her, and she just couldn't rest until she'd taken it out of someone else. But her response was rude beyond belief, and the dynamic she established was: I'm the adult, you're the naughty child, and I'm going to take you over my knee. You just don't talk to people the way she spoke to me in that email.

In answer to her multiple-paragraph dressing down, I shot back a quick, "Thanks Margaret, I'll keep that in mind for future." She came running over to me and tried to make nice, but didn't exactly apologize. SO frickin' weird.

What I learned is that I'm considered fair game. If there's a problem that I'm involved in, I won't be approached with respect or asked for my side. I'm going to be handed my a$$ on a plate without any preliminaries. (It's called scapegoating.) So knowing this, I'm documenting, saving emails and my own sent mails, and covering my butt at all times. A paranoid culture breeds paranoia.

I love the advice above to find a way to remove yourself from a dysfunctional environment, rather than to try to fix it. I'm not able to do this right now either! Just really super tough! :P