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Workplace Politics

Most of us are no stranger to the tension and discomfort that can arise from politics in the workplace. Don’t feel trapped. There are a few things you can do.

In an economy booming with over abundance and over inflation, no one is a stranger to unease in the workplace. If increasing consumer demand and high employee turnover isn’t already enough cause for stress at work, add politics to the growing list.

Considering the leaps and bounds society has made regarding human rights and equality, one may wonder why so many people do not feel comfortable in their work environment. There are a few common responses to this, one of them being as classic and simple as the days of high school. Cliques.

Though most of us would be loathe to admit it, the way in which we conduct ourselves in the professional world is often lacking just that. Professionalism. Anyone can find themselves at the mercy of a clique or tight knit office group. Often it is the newcomer or the employee with exceptional skills that become the target for clique discrimination. Exclusion from social circles, rumors and gossip are just a few of the many things people can become subjected to when the victim of workplace drama. When we are trying to hurt one another at work, it isn’t just politics anymore. It’s outright juvenile dramatics.

Often the employer is unaware of the unfair treatment taking place within his or her company which leads one to ask, why not? Employers need to donate as much time to the personal goings on among employees as they do to money making. The majority of employees will keep silent rather than go to the boss with complaints of clique conflict out of fear for their job or even perhaps their safety. A common recommendation for people finding themselves in similar situations is nothing we haven’t heard before. “Turn the other cheek” or “kill them with kindness” are both methods requiring great patience and self restraint but are often effective in undoing even the hardest of people.

Not only are cliques a viable problem for fellow employees but discrimination because of employer favoritism is also still well entrenched in the business world. Worse than the boss being uninformed and uninvolved is when the boss him or herself is at the center of the issue. The most obvious and common example of an employer playing favorites among the staff is the classic case of the boss’s own family being the favored persons. Many employees find themselves backed into a corner where they feel their hands are tied because any dispute with employer family members could result in termination. Though this is illegal, it most certainly is happening.

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User Comments
  1. sarah

    On April 23, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Sounds good, why did you write this? But it is good.

  2. Paige Maron

    On May 6, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Wow. Great Job. This would have been valuble information if I had found it 2 months ago. I’ll keep it bookmarked for further refrance. My work place just went through all this and we finaly got our boss to realize it was a superviser that was bullying and causing the tension in the warehouse. Thank you for the insight. Keep up the good work.

  3. Adamv1

    On October 20, 2007 at 3:15 am

    I am expieriencing some very intense workplace drama currently. I work in an environment where we are constantly scrutinized and live with the fear of god from our HR department. I broke the cardinal rule of dating in the workplace and it has caused me a great deal of tension. A clique in my workplace has formed an alience against me and has done all in their power to cause me grief. I would like to transfer, I feel like I am being harrassed by people I thought were my friends. I tried kindness and they reciprocated only to turn to malicousness behind my back.

  4. attractive and hated at work

    On June 6, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I have experienced being a target of insecure, unattractive co-workers, managers, & especially HR reps who resemble Shrek. It is difficult being decent, intelligent, and beautiful in today’s workplace. I am envied and ridiculed by other women when I am nothing but nice to everyone. My excellent ideas have been ignored by management, as I suspect my practicality was outshining them. Cliques are horrible in their exclusion, gossip, and jealous, negative comments. Businesses need to insist on fairness, no politics, and help those in need.

  5. Cat101

    On July 17, 2008 at 7:52 am

    I have been working with a company for 20 years and started to experience the “Evil Politics” of Corporate America over the past year. I contribute a lot of it to the state of the economy and realize that a lot of Corporations are being hit with extreme competition, therefore, expectations are being raised big time. This I understand. I can deal with Good Stress, but when it comes to dealing with Bad Stress mixed with “Evil Politics”, it’s enough to start affecting your health. This is not true Leadership. True Leadership does not allow for this to happen, and I am feeling very uncomfortable to the point where my character and actions are constantly questioned even as I do the right thing in all situations as a People Leader. I will say that it is very important to have a support group within your peers and there is access to an Omsbuds person if you have to go that route. Hopefully every large company has this alternative, because when you are working very hard and are dedicated to your job, it is not fair or just to have situations arise that put you in the “hot seat” unnecessarily. It takes away from what you are supposed to do. So, if you are taking all of this home with you and can’t eat or sleep because of this, then it’s time to take action. I am! Good luck to all of you out there that are experiencing this ugly side of business.

  6. The evil L word...Liberal

    On August 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I dread working in an office. Unfortunately due to my profession I had little choice until recently. The dread I feel is simple, I dress professional and conservative but I am a liberal through and through. Within weeks of my hiring slowly the conservatives within the office – who always travel in cliques – will begin making overtones to socialize. However, the moment they discover I am not a Fundamentalist Christian, will never vote Republican and is not a closet racist, sexist, and homophobe they look at me astounded. Eventually they grow to hate me, especially when I make it clear if they bring their religious fanaticism into my office to attempt to convert me again I’ll take official action. Many say I should just lie and “play the part of a ‘good’ conservative”. I feel that is not appropriate since the conservatives “Bible up” and intimidate others in every office I’ve ever worked. It got so bad I actually sued my employer after secretly recording a plethora of audio and video. Now I own my own business.

  7. Jane Doe

    On September 8, 2008 at 9:55 am

    All I have to say is this will always exist unless it is changed by Law, but I doubt it will. This is a very sad and evil situation that we all have to be in. When you are out numbered by the evil and all you can do is pray to keep those evil and unhappy people far away from you cause it is easy to be bothered by it. You can always move on and hopefully find an environment that is more your style cause they are out there but extremely hard to find due to I think there are more miserable people then happy people out there today. What is our world coming to? We all need to look in the mirror more often and say How do I treat people and How do I want to be treated? The world would be a better place if we would all think about those two simple questions. We all better do good and be nice while we are on earth cause when we pass away that will be the real test…..Let’s see who wants to play games then…….see ya in the future to all the bad, miserable, trouble makers, gossipers and down right ignorant and self indulgent people out there running companies that shouldn’t…..

  8. FredB

    On October 12, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I had to deal with politics in the workplace with a sadistic boss who, for some reason, took great pleasure in seeing everyone else suffer. When other members of management began to follow his example, it made life miserable for me. I finally lost it ,but was fortunate enough to get away from them and get moved to another division of our company.

  9. Eagle1

    On October 20, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    wow! I have just made an outline on politics in the workplace, because of my current experience in this office, and saw this. After my latest experience, I outlined “politics in the workplace” and decided to go online to find some materials that would provide me with a broder picture and to enhance understanding on what is going on. The first article that I saw was this. It is really great. It has answer the questions that I was looking for in my outline.

  10. InTheTrenches

    On January 10, 2009 at 3:22 am

    From my experience,this is the mo: befriend the new person,ask very personal questions (the new person wants to fit in and will tell all),complain & get the new person to make comparisons with former jobs,complain/joke about the company other workers, and use this information to get the new person in trouble with other workers and the boss. The new person, wants to keep the job remains silent, hoping not offend, because training is still in progress. The other mo is to have such fun conversations that the new person does not get trained properly. All these things are rotten, but it’s called job security, and with a bad economy it’s WORSE. What to do? Don’t try to fit in, make suggestions, correct anyone or anything. Don’t be fooled by the comraderie, the fun atmosphere. Be neutral but friendly. Don’t think you fit in just because your coworkers take you to lunch either. Neutral comments that work: “I’ll tell you later”, “Oh”, “wow”. Change the conversation for sticky topics like religion, politics. Here’s an example for the new person otj “how much are you getting paid” – “I’ll tell you later” say as often as necessary. “What do you think about so-and so” reply “I don’t have enough information yet” or “I don’t know him/her well enough, he/she seems like a nice person”. Other no-no’s do not ever speak up at a meeting, or ever say “my other company used to do so and so”. Wait till you’ve been there for a while before making ANY suggestions, and these should cost little or no money, and be very simple. Well, hope this is helpful. Good luck to all.

  11. Killersheep

    On November 1, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Well, sad to said. The worst part of work in any situation is when your boss felt that you are a threat to them. They will try all means to pervent your advancement.

  12. Craig Glendenning

    On November 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Great Article! Thanks for posting it. Here are a few rules that I use to deal with Idiots at work:

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