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Office Politics Road Kill November 16, 2012

Posted by frewon9 in .
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K how many times it does happen

The rat race. It’s inescapable. It’s a jungle out there and the big cats are forever sharpening their claws. Even if you make a conscious effort to stay out of the fray, it’s almost impossible not to be sucked in.

There are lots of reasons why office politics exist. Re-creating family of origin roles (sorry for the shrink-ese). Feeling undermined at home and compensating at work. Adult bullies in the grown-up playground. Power hunger. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are; it just plain sucks.

I used to work at a methadone clinic with a dozen, embittered, bitchy, middle-aged social workers and nurses. It was HELL. It was such a crazy system, I devised creative ways to stay sane in the midst of the collective lunacy

Here are the basic office politics archetypes I’ve noticed through my work experiences. If you can think of any I’m missing, I’d love to read about them as comments:

The Ego Monster: They’re right. They’re always right. They have to be the smartest person in the room. Their ideas are the best and therefore the only ones that count. These are also the folks that pay the most lip service to “teamwork.”

The Bully: They use verbal and intellectual (if they’re capable of it) intimidation. They openly belittle others’ ideas, work, dress, speech, etc., (with the exception of their immediate supervisor(s) and/or boss). The only way they can feel good about themselves is by putting others down.

The Climber: They have to be on top. It doesn’t even really matter if the top position is a glory-less one. If there’s a rung above them, they’re going to climb it. They usually ascend by using the daggers they plunge in people’s backsides as rappelling instruments.

Mr./Ms. Good Intentions: They’re a variation of the Climber, but they disguise their agenda with “the best of intentions,” smiling whilst they sharpen their oyster knives.

The Pilot Fish: They are the shameless suck-ups who hope that by suckling on the power teat, they’ll be spared the attacks of the Bully and the Climber and curry favor with the Ego Monster.

The Innocent Bystander: This is the archetype to which I relate. I hate politics. Hate them. Basically, I just want to do the best job possible and leave me out of it, thank you. You can never stay out of it, not really. The system always finds a way to suck you in. Even working from home as a freelance whatever doesn’t make you immune. Believe me, I tried this angle.

The crazy thing is, 20 years from now- when you’re in a different job or retired- none of the things we rage, plot and scheme over at the office matters. Well, maybe if you’re Albert Schweitzer or Madame Curie it does, but ultimately who gives a rat’s a$$ how many widgets are sold or insurance policies opened? I don’t.

So what can you do to survive? First, realize it’s them, not you. Do you feel like you’re going crazy at work? Up is down? Left is right? Day is night? Chances are you’re in a crazy system. I’ve been there, calling my friends at night and incredulousy describing my day, hoping they’ll give me a reality check. Never a good sign.

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