I’ve asked countless people to give me a single word or phrase that they think of when I ask “what instantly comes to your mind when you hear the term “workplace politics”?
Here are a few examples of what I’ve heard:
- Back stabbing
- Money grubbing
- Power playing
- Kiss up
- Gossiping behind peoples back
Most everyone thinks that workplace politicking is negative. Not only that, it can be personally disruptive and easily cause a dysfunctional work environment.
Can there be positive workplace politics? Of course! It happens all the time but we don’t always notice it when work runs smoothly without drama.
I think there is a simple reason negative workplace politics is more prevalent.
It is easy to be manipulative, back stabbing, deceitful and a gossip. People can be negative without the requirements of any effort or reasoned thought. All it takes is being confrontational with others while caring solely about your own self interests.
I think when you practice positive workplace politics you must also practice the traits of empathy, concern, affirmation, collaboration and, possibly the most difficult trait, trust. None of these traits are directed inward. They are all practiced with the well being of others in mind.
So what is the reason we don’t practice positive politics? I think the answer lies in the word “practice”. Like anything, being good at something requires a great deal of energy and “practice”.
Engaging in negative politics is lazy and takes virtually no energy or thought at all. Lazy minds are not allowed in an environment of positive workplace politics.
Thus the myth that workplace politics is only negative!