Career Tips

How to Stay Away from Gangs/Cliques in Office & Survive

Date Posted: 07/9/2015

Politics is in essence the eternal battle for domination. It determines who controls in any given situation and who follows. Politics exists whenever there are two or more people. It thrives in the workplace whenever there is intense competition between individuals (or groups) forcing their way by pushing for selection in the distribution of benefits. Sometimes the reasons for politicking get compounded by other factors, like ethnic (Filipino vs. others), or skin color, or cultural and religious values. Or it could be just bad manpower management. But it has always been there, and will always be there, at every level of human or other life-forms interaction.

At your office, there are people who want to climb up the hierarchy at any cost and just don’t care if it means harming another colleague. So don’t be caught off guard if you face subtle (and not so subtle) cross currents, group fighting, manipulation and one-upmanship. Just follow some basic rules to navigate in the strong currents of groups to survive:

   • Show strong personality

Make it clear to all that you are not approachable for any in-fighting games that people play.  Let your colleagues understand that you are strong and cannot be influenced. You will eventually be accepted as neutral and will not be drawn into politicking.

    Focus on your own work

You should not isolate yourself from your colleagues so maintain good personal relations and cordiality with everyone. But let everyone know that you are too committed to your own work to spare time for building group allegiances. Declare your professional priorities to resist those who want you in their respective groups. Focus solely on your work to leave no time to join any groups. This will help you to avoid any politicking which will be appreciated by your superiors.

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    Don’t involve, just watch

Observe your co-workers to feel the pulse of what’s happening around you. Understand what drives your colleagues and seniors to engage in such groupism. Figure out the cross currents in order to assess the merits, motivations, the logic and weaknesses of respective counter-arguments. Understand how the official functions affect the work processes so you can defend yourself when you face politics at work.

    Don’t take sides

Don’t feel intimated or defensive if you face an “either-you’re-with-us-or-you’re-against-us” choice. This is just a test to gauge your resistance. Take the firm stance that you support/oppose the issue strictly on the basis of its merits. This attitude is not easily challenged and you should be left in relative peace thereafter.

    Reject gossip

You’ll be surprised how people are anxious to know gossip about themselves. When they realize you don’t encourage such gossip, they will not share loose talk with you in their politicking.

    Don’t complain openly

Complaining about something in your work is exposing your weakness and your lack of mental strength. Be aware that a politicking group may exploit this to draw you in. Any such problem should only be confided in someone who can help resolve it.

    Be the mediator

Take a sincere stand of neither agreeing nor rejecting any argument related to the politics at play. This stand will give you the advantage of neutrality, and superiority, over all warring sides. Gain respect as a fair co-worker who sees the larger picture and the long term organizational goal of the company rather than the biased small issues of the factions.

    Voice your opinion selectively

Don’t let the wrong group know your negative opinions because repercussions could be harmful. Choose your friends carefully and always generalize your disapprovals against any colleague or group with tact, keeping a back-track explanation, if challenged.

    Be patient

Up to a point there is no alternative but patience in waiting for situations to improve. This will enable you to handle the stress and remain calm.  But you have to draw the line somewhere on the extent of group behavior that you will tolerate. Beware that beyond this point, you may become vulnerable and buckle under to join the same group that you despise.

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