Drama is something that follows us everywhere. It’s something that we experience in school, and it follows us everywhere we go. When we’re in college, it’s called gossip. But the moment we enter a work environment, the dynamics of this ‘drama’ and ‘gossip changes. It turns into a more dignified, yet venomous habit. It turns into office politics.
Whether you like it or not, at some point in your career, you would have been involved in some kind of office politics or the other. Working in an environment that has a lot of people engaging in what is honestly unnecessary banter can affect the way you work.
AS AN EMPLOYEE
1. Know your environment:
We’d all like to make fast friends in the office, but before you get friendly with all your colleagues, know what kind of office space you are going to be a part of. Gauge your environment and understand the dynamics of your office. Try to make your interaction objective, instead of subjective.
2. Keep an eye on who likes to gossip
Like it or not, you are going to come across a certain type of person who has two different faces. They keep switching them based on the people they are around. Keep an eye on the people who like to indulge in unnecessary chatter. You have to be careful about what you share with them.
3. Don’t give in to gossip
Many people who like to make office politics a part of their contract deal at work love to share ‘dirty snippets’ of someone else’s life. When you share details about someone else’s life when they aren’t around you, it paints you in a bad light. So try to keep your distance from gossip.
4. Choose your group of office buddies carefully
Having a set of friends at your workplace makes it easier to get through the day. But you have to be careful of the kind of company you keep. Choose your friends at work wisely, because negative energy can have an impact on your work productivity.
5. Don’t pretend like you’re above the politics
Practice what you preach. People can tell when you aren’t doing that. We’d like to say that we’re above the politics, but the truth is it can’t be avoided at times. Don’t pretend like you are too good for office politics. Be tactful when you are tackling office drama instead of washing your hands off it.
6. Be an open book
There can be times when we don’t agree with what our colleagues say, or maybe we’re not happy with some changes higher-ups have made. Don’t express your disdain to someone who is not involved in the picture. Discuss these things with the people that matter, namely the one involved in whatever you are upset about. Be an open book when it comes to your opinion.
7. Asking people questions
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it can severely damage your professional reputation. It’s human nature to be curious about something, but then that curiosity can come off as brown-nosing sometimes. Think about the nature of the relationship you share with any of your colleagues before diving into question and answer round with them. There are some questions that can cross a line, so approach topics with caution.
8. Be careful with what you share on office networks
There are several things that don’t need to be shared on office networks. Office emails and other messenger apps can be accessed by employees if they feel like productivity is being affected. Sharing gossip on office networks can be damaging to your professional reputation, so avoid it whenever you can.
AS AN EMPLOYER
1. Encourage an open environment:
Talking to your employees about ways to improve their work environment is one way you can encourage openness in your office. What this will do is help your employees see that their office space encourages being open, allowing them to easily discuss their difficulties and grievances.
2. Hold people accountable for their actions
Make a note of people on your team who show toxic behavior. Holding people accountable for their actions will show that petty drama and gossip is something that is not encouraged in your work environment. It will also make sure that it will not repeat again.
3. Encourage respect
Treat everyone in a respectful and professional manner. Set an example by being the example. When your employees see that you are someone who treats their employees with respect, it pushes them to treat others the same way. Create a respectful environment at work.
4. Assert your authority only when required
Being the boss doesn’t mean that you have to pull your weight with everything. Like Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility. Think about how you should and shouldn’t exercise your authority. No one likes a pushy boss who wants to have a say in everything.
5. Keep a strict boundary
The employee-employer boundary is something that cannot be crossed when it comes to gossip. As an employer, you have to pull back from engaging in frivolous gossip and petty arguments. Make sure that any topics you discuss with your employee are professional, and carry the right tone.
6. Don’t lash out at employees in public
Dealing with office politics requires tact and professionalism. Make sure you maintain that when you are handling a gossip-related situation. Hold a private conversation with the people concerned. This will also remind them that there is a certain professional decorum to follow in the office space.