Office politics as a skill refers to the ability to use one’s power beyond his legitimate right to do so in order to gain personal advantage or to benefit a cause that he supports.

In most cases, the use of office politics as a skill is frowned upon because it involves seeking advantage through unfair means, at the expense of other people or by compromising the greater good, which has an adverse impact on work relationships as well as the overall work environment.

However, office politics can also be a decent skill to have if you can use it fairly to promote yourself as well as support your cause. From this perspective, stakeholder management and networking may be considered the subsets of office politics.

Why is office politics important

Whether you admire it or not, practice it or not, there is no way you can deny the reality of office politics found in almost every organization. There is no choice but to admit that office politics is a skill without which success will only remain a dream.

How else do you expect to handle being publicly put down? How will you figure out what to discuss and with whom to discuss? How will you know the right times to make yourself noticeable? Thinking about the answers to these as well as plenty of other questions will help you appreciate the ability to understand and master the skills of office politics.

Often the young employees fail to understand this but office politics is just as important as talent and hard work, if not more. Focusing solely on work means you are risking the visibility of your contribution to the growth of the business. Therefore, effective leaders are the ones that acknowledge the reality of politics within an organization and develop their skills accordingly.

How to improve office politics skills

Now that we are well aware that office politics is not optional, following are some tips that may help in improving the skills:

  • Do not attempt to change or defy the company rules and culture. You must try to understand the stated as well as the hidden or unspoken rules of the company. Follow the dress code, approved communication styles as well as the office hours. Find out the kinds of behavior which are rewarded and imitate. Figure out the ones that are frowned upon and avoid them. In this context, being different will never help.
  • Be aware of how you are perceived by people. Self-awareness must be practiced such that it becomes part of your daily routine. Discover your strengths and be brutally honest to yourself about your weaknesses. If you wish to make a positive impression on everyone, the first step is to figure out how they perceive you presently.
  • Be approachable. Always behave in a polite and helpful way because your behavior reflects your true self. Lend a hand to your colleagues if the area in which they struggle is your expertise. All of this will help you seem reliable as well as resourceful.