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Words to live by

August 8, 2008

I couldn’t respond in 140 characters. I couldn’t even respond in chunks of 140 characters. Hope this will suffice:

sharon_elin wonders how everyone handles “office politics” and “toxic co-workers”?
  1. recognize your role. Its probably to get something done. And it more than likely includes the unwritten stuff, like making the environment hospitable to get what you need done, done.
  2. politics is a way of life. If you find it petty, you can call it a “game.” If its crucial to you, you call them “negotiations.” Part of it is your attitude in how you will get #1 done and what your responsibility is beyond what is explicitly stated.
  3. people become toxic because of something that has probably happened before to them. Do you know why? Did they not get credit once before, and now feel they must steal that credit? Can they be made to feel important and an ally? They are much more likely to be supportive, if you can “negotiate” safe passage for your project. Ask them how they might benefit from your work, and include them in the rewards. Even if they try to steal “seconds” others will notice good things going on around you.
  4. map out your resources and the costs to benefits at the start. What is the worst that can happen? What might cause that to happen? What is the best that can happen? What can you do to ensure that? Remember these possible parameters as being exactly that – possible. Anticipate the pitfalls (you won’t get them all) and come up with one or two damage control strategies right away.
Don’t forget that just because you don’t hit 100%, you’re not a failure. The more you apply this, the higher you will hit each time. Eventually, as people know what to expect from you, and what your motivations are, they will tend to be less toxic – especially if they are doing well because of what you are doing.
The task is rarely simple and laid out. More people would climb mountains if all you had to do was “go from here to there.” It is because of these unstated challenges that others can appreciate your achievements. And don’t expect to climb the highest mountains right from the beginning. Failure doesn’t equate to death in most things in life. But giving up does.
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